Fire Works for No Man
I see you slogging through a field of haze,
Stained a patriotic red, red, and red, towards this
Ever-shifting image of fleeting gunpowder
Blowing holes in the breathless air. In this second,
There are rockets primed for launch, and bombs bursting in
Air, illuminating the face of soot-stained soldier. Red and blue
Shadows streak across you pale face.
But here, hanging between time and space,
There is no army imminent, just the sound of
A distant boom, like the march of a thousand feet,
Pacing towards death. Here, suspended between seconds,
I am omniscient. I have before me a frozen slice of life,
Like a portrait, spreading across the trampled grass,
Spread out on a red blanket—made in China—white knuckles
Clutching a cheap little flag—shipped from Taiwan—chapped lips
Sucking life from a paper cup—brewed in Ethiopia—as you wait
For the show. You think you can handle it.
I have this bit of history captured in my
Red glare, this precious image locked in my mind,
Of children fussing and babies screaming and
Adults pulling their hair out, strands of sanity scattered
Across the ground. As I fly high above it all, like a guardian
Angel, blood flashes before your eyes, and
Khaki-clad suburbanites have that look on their
Faces, the one that says you’re in
Trouble. Is this what you bumble towards, through craggy
Rocks and, whoops, is that a leftover hand grenade?
Run, run through smoke and fire and the sudden
Denseness of air a child’s scream creates. Run, run like the
Hero, towards this glitching image before it fizzles out.
I’m falling now, back through time and smoggy air and the
Taste of lingering fire. Can you catch me? Run. Run.
It’s Kind of Pathetic Sitting Here Watching You Shooting Stars
All my brothers and sisters, they ended up
At a bar, somewhere fun, prying secrets from
Between the lips of the famous and the fallen.
How did I wind up here, sweating in the slick, calloused
Fingers of a man with nothing better to say than “How
Did I wind up here”? At least, I think that’s what he’s saying;
It’s a little hard to tell. This anger that’s been fermenting inside for
Quite a while, feeding a dancing dunce and his band of invisible men. They
Seem to make far better company, these grandiose ghosts. They are
Stuck as much as I am, to this man who sits and thinks and thinks
And will not let them go, when the rest of the world has moved on.
Dangling precariously on the edge, close enough to reach out and
Smudge his fingers against the ink-soaked bowl of the sky, he keeps a
Silver gleaming companion by his side, the charge of Sir Smith and Lord
Wesson. He hates the smell of manufacturing
And murder it makes when he points it at the up, up, and away.
“There’s no adventure” he laments, in compressing death into something that
Fits in a pocket. Portable slaughter, he snorts, sputters, hiccups in disgust.
I’ve heard people say I reveal the truth in others, pompous
Latin in poor man’s tongues, like turpentine on a graffitied canvas,
but this guy seems pretty far gone to me. There’s nothing I,
Half empty as I am, could do to this poor fool, giggling
And dancing and white knuckles squeezing the life from tired ideas.
Oh, dear Mr. Cheevy, why do you insist on shooting for the
Stars; don’t you know you’ll be dead before you get there?
Reetu is a recent graduate from Mary Baldwin College with degrees in English and philosophy. Her hobbies are dramatic monologue poetry and vegan baking.