Brian Turner featured author of the month |

Brian Turner featured author of the month


The wrong is not in the religion;

The wrong is in us.

– Saier T.

At dusk, bats fly out by the hundreds.

Water snakes glide in the ponding basins

behind the rubbled palaces. The mosques

call their faithful in, welcoming

the moonlight as prayer.

Today, policemen sunbathed on traffic islands

and children helped their mothers

string clothes to the line, a slight breeze

filling them with heat.

There were no bombs, no panic in the streets.

Sgt. Gutierrez didn’t comfort an injured man

who cupped pieces of his friend’s brain

in his hands; instead, today,

white birds rose from the Tigris.

“AB Negative” (The Surgeon’s Poem)

Thalia Fields lies under a gray ceiling of clouds,

just under the turbulence, with anesthetics

dripping from an IV into her arm,

and the flight surgeon says The shrapnel

cauterized as it traveled through her

here, breaking this rib as it entered,

burning a hole through the left lung

to finish in her back, and all of this

she doesn’t hear, except perhaps as music-

that faraway music of people’s voices

when they speak gently and with care,

a comfort to her on a stretcher

in a flying hospital en route to Landstahl,

just under the rain at midnight, and Thalia

drifts in and out of consciousness

as a nurse dabs her lips with a moist towel,

her palm on Thalia’s forehead, her vitals

slipping some, as burned flesh gives way

to the heat of blood, the tunnels within

opening to fill her, just enough blood

to cough up and drown in; Thalia

sees shadows of people working

to save her, but cannot feel their hands,

cannot hear them any longer,

and when she closes her eyes

the most beautiful colors rise in darkness,

tangerine washing into Russian blue,

with the droning engine humming on

in a dragonfly’s wings, island palms

painting the sky an impossible hue

with their thick brushes dripping green…

a way of dealing with the fact

that Thalia Fields is gone, long gone,

about as far from Mississippi

as she can get, ten thousand feet above Iraq

with a blanket draped over her body

and an exhausted surgeon in tears,

his bloodied hands on her chest, his head

sunk down, the nurse guiding him

to a nearby seat and holding him as he cries,

though no one hears it, because nothing can be heard

where pilots fly in blackout, the plane

like a shadow guiding the rain, here

in the droning engines of midnight.

“Here, Bullet”

If a body is what you want,

then here is bone and gristle and flesh.

Here is the clavicle-snapped wish,

the aorta’s opened valves, the leap

thought makes at the synaptic gap.

Here is the adrenaline rush you crave,

that inexorable flight, that insane puncture

into heat and blood. And I dare you to finish

what you’ve started. Because here, Bullet,

here is where I complete the word you bring

hissing through the air, here is where I moan

the barrel’s cold esophagus, triggering

my tongue’s explosives for the rifling I have

inside of me, each twist of the round

spun deeper, because here, Bullet,

here is where the world ends, every time.

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