Poem in Case We Become Soldiers


I’ve begun practicing with a shade of red called “lust.”

I paint red stars on my sneakers, the coffee table,

on the envelopes I mail to Time Warner. Lust


is militant in the sense it’s beyond moderation,

as when the weak lion risks his life


to corral a female into thicket. See how

that type of desire wears a uniform,


see how one can watch it dominate

like a soldier at a daycare center.

After a time, my living room walls


resemble a night bleeding from its beginnings.

But being American


dulls one to the shock of duplication,

one idea built on the wreckage of another, like limbs


piled on a battlefield. Stars and stars and stars, and

a game to see who can draw the best, free-hand.

Then a game to see


what we can “do without”: fresh fruit, Google,

time of day, wanting, wanting to be wanted.

Finally, I stand against the wall, spread-eagle,


my five points splayed

as though I were part of something larger. No,


as though something larger were coming

and my stomach, my soft parts

had been cured of their foolish longing


for the blink of instinct,

that posture whereby the palms point face-out

as a creature denying the inevitability of pain.

Copyright © 1999-2018 Juked