Getting Out and Afterward

Bosnia, 1996

      Pressed drying into place     / the carnation
clarifies. The calypso thinking frays — attempting
modes left over on the stairs and under stairs
/ in the rooms brought low with airy condescensions.
Think of the jacked swine and think of jacked swine
treading air. And of that bleak triumvirate. Think     of
the treed and quick-hued slopes     / of the corporals
waxing air — because   the corporals     knew to do
as they were ordered    — standing the corpses tall —
ignoring the wrapped heads     / the shoes they’d wrapped
in rags to last the winter — sourcing
the ballads since    / the weeks let go     and weeks of it
to follow. Suppose you had seemed dispensable?
Suppose you had traded air     / the weathers grinding out —
sucked off that confidence     — breathing
this roasted flesh     — whole beasts (on skids) delivered
to the skier? How could you blame     / believe?
And how could you mask your own surprise     — unable
to sample once     or turn away     from that bled beast —
standing the worship lives had seen to bet the house on —
withstanding that one’s luck     — and     that one —
spitting half a continent     — the hungers let commence —
until each bruise meant shimmering
/ each arc meant brides     / and meant    the brides
poured off     / poured out     — to rise from
/ steam to stars from the old fires     — as warm
as they’d seemed to touch     — and twice as old
as they had seemed the day they started —     as clear
as the papers     / stairs     — the     stairs
and under stairs and airy places     — papers
blown across the straights
and caught against the gratings     / where
the risers stood     / where the futures —
understood and acted on     — meant
these glass balls     shimmering
when cries could not
get out?

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