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Posts Tagged ‘history’

July Desert

Two old friends still young
when we crossed the desert.
We had never been out to that
barren beautiful madness,
we had never been
to many places then.

It was July fourth, I drove
your American truck through the
shifting landscape in changing light.
You, asleep from a Las Vegas hangover,
we had to make it to Albuquerque.

Little sparks interrupted the skyline
like gunfire, every desert town in
every direction celebrated independence.
Dozens of towns sent up their flares,
layers of color from two-second torches
bursting in the dark desert.

I drove through that warzone of happiness,
reflecting on how those towns came to be,
the settlement of scratching slowly west,
an impulse to be content stopping there
so that their cheerful explosions could
light up sparse plants and sand covered
bones, light up all the truck’s mirrors and windows
with color confusion, light up my face in the
windshield to make me look at myself for brief moments,
driving free as I would ever be across the July desert.

Kyle McHale           2015

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Twenty-One Shots

On a blue October day twenty-one shots
echoed through my heart,
jolted me back into the current moment,
where my thoughts had wandered
back to Pop-Pop’s firing salute years before,
this time empty shells hit the ground
and heavy blasts hit the air for my father.

Warriors get what they deserve at Arlington,
where their heavy hearts can rest.
Left here with our troubled hearts.
Rest well and forever,
whatever losses life gave you
have been given back.

Have you ever seen Marines fold a flag?
I’ll only see it once,
Marines in perfect symmetry,
folding the flag over my father,
ceremonial, sad, perfect,
brothers honoring each other
separated only by time.

I’ve had family in every American war.
Dad said he went to war so
Kevin and I did not have to.

God, I hope I deserve not
to see combat. I hope all
their blood has been enough.
God, I hope I live well enough
knowing there is a burden
they carried that I will
never be able to repay.

 

Kyle McHale                         2014

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