I am a former paratrooper, Gulf War veteran, and a Daily Press Poet Laureate. My first poetry collection, The Human Touch, focused on relationships that we form with family and communities while my second collection, Half a Man, focused on war. (Both are available at http://www.billglose.com/purchase.htm.) My upcoming third collection, Personal Geography (to be published January, 2016) is a mixture of both. More information at www.BillGlose.com.
Things They Left Behind
We rehearsed invading bunkers over
dimpled plains of sand and rocks too small
to offer cover. Support team shifted fire
as comrades cut wire on knees, praying
for blessings of smoke grenades.
We were ready for anything
Patches, guns, discarded uniforms. Each bunker
as welcoming as a child’s tented bed. Sleeping rolls,
food tins, patterned rugs—ours for the taking. So slight
the demarcation between warrior and pillager. Face down
inside a bomb crater lay three officer’s bodies,
bullet holes between their shoulder blades—
a gift left behind
by deserting troops. Opened wide on each chest
was a cavern where a beating heart should be.
Scattered at their feet were pamphlets explaining
how to don and clear a gas mask. As if that might
protect them. One newspaper with Arabic headlines
showed a grinning caricature of George Bush,
but I never deciphered what it meant.
Sturdier than it appears,
the musician stands upon
spindly legs made from wire,
torso crafted from flattened
bullet casings. Even its
There is more to me
than meets the eye.
From detritus in our wake,
Bedouin artisans create
frozen moments of harmony.
Ignoring the howling
storms of this world,
the figurine strums
its wire guitar,
miniature crooning head
cocked to the sky.
Close your eyes,
you will hear not only
chords of blonde hair
and blue eyes, but the dusky
wail of a ney vibrating
in your chest, echoing
down to your DNA.
When last I slid my rifle in its rack,
unlaced my boots and stowed my uniform
with all the freight of war that I had borne,
fury’s claw marks laced upon my back,
I stumbled from the shade of all I knew
into a world I long strove to protect
without belief one day I could expect
the ice within my bones to melt anew.
But in light of day, rage can’t survive
and hope warms all who in her sunlight trust
that life has more to give than blood and lust.
Disarmed, I gulped blue air and felt alive.
Headlong at life I charged and wasn’t scared
to drop my shield and let my heart be bared.
©2015 Bill Glose