Strange the pain you don’t feel

When the bite of bullet slips

Through the thick of the gut

And exits,


As if it never entered at all.

Maybe it’s endorphins

Going wild like army ants.

Your body’s own quick-reacting

Local anesthetic.

You feel without hearing

Flicks of shell-wracked desert

Kick up in sprays around you,

See without feeling

The wound gaped

Like the backs of screaming mouths,

And the blood



Your fatigues like a tear

Over sand-dried cheek.

That’s when nausea

Grips the throat and shakes it.

When sleep burns behind

The eyes. When the calm

Rest of exhaustion seems to lift

Flesh from muscle, pull spirit from bone,

And you smile from somewhere inside

You’ve never seen

Or felt

Or knew was alive.

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