War Story #164: Explaining Why I Brought to Iraq But Couldn’t Open Weldon Kees’ Collected Poems

You must be trained to read it.
You can’t just
pick it up,
swing back a page and —
Go to town!

And I was trained.
I understood
as well as anyone the danger
of brandishing the book
while every other day
wanting to suck-start a 9mm pistol.

I recognized the apocalypse he wrote of
on the squalid streets of Baghdad,
trash-flags flapping on the razor wire,
and the young men
gunning for us
nightly with their eyes
and AK-47s.

Kees’ poems were as keen
as Kukri blades,
sharp as a set of ginsu
thrust in a maple block.

So I buried them in a foot locker.

they would chant of nothing
but a furthering
of the violence.