I feel incredibly blessed by the experiences I had at Iowa State University, where I earned my MFA in Creative Writing and Environment, learned from some amazing poets (Heather Derr-Smith, Debra Marquart, and Mary Swander), and served as President of Ames-ISU for Darfur. Since graduating, I have been fortunate to teach a wide variety of English and Communication courses, and I hope to bestow upon my students a love for writing. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @bdburmeister.
Steps in Darfur
If you walk barefoot here,
You’ll notice the hardness of things,
Dried, harsh gray and ecru.
The ground looks like sand
But does not give.
Here, dirt, rock
Are the same.
Walking, running, the same,
Your feet do not sink.
In this place, not even knees get saved.
In Garsila, there are brick walls
Scarred black without roofs,
Surrounded by piles of ash.
Good or bad or unforgivable,
The things we make and do
Always outlive us.
In Garsila, there are
No sounds, no use
For any of this.
Make Me What I'm Not
Captain Steidle enters the village,
The only American in the team of five.
He is welcomed
By a handful
Who survived because they were smart
Enough to play dead.
A woman, not yet twenty,
Brings her baby to him.
Captain Steidle is white, male; therefore,
In this place, to all who see him, a doctor.
He is not.
The baby had a bullet pierce his back:
A small wound below the shoulder
Where the bullet entered;
A larger wound, a mess of blood and skin
On the opposite side,
Just above the hip.
Captain Steidle speaks English to the woman,
Tells her to lay the baby down.
She does not understand.
He takes off his shirt,
Lays it on the ground,
Takes the baby from her, gently,
Gently lays the child there.
He wipes away what blood he can, takes the shirt,
wraps it tightly around the larger wound.
He shakes his head, again speaks English,
But not to her, not to anyone near,
And asks for help.
Credits:“Steps in Darfur” was first published in Yellow Chair Review; “Garsila Village” was first published in The Camel Saloon; “Make Me What I’m Not” was first published in Eunoia Review .
©2015 Brian Burmeister