recent poem

Crossfire: March 21, 1967

On a country road across from corn-
fields and cattle, soy beans
and sunshine, a daughter bakes
a birthday cake for her mother
while another swings on the front porch
with music from far off St. Louis.
The clock of long afternoons continues
to tick beyond marigolds planted
inside a tractor tire in the yard
and stiff winds trace patterns in the cloudsó
here and then gone. Without a clue,
their lives already dissolving, drifting
over the shoulders of men with rifles raised
crossing the Song Be River, grenades, split-
second decisions, a father placed
piece by piece into a black plastic bag
until the sting of the sun sneaks out
of the jungle so that one day out of a year
these memories of death and birth
entwine like snakes, slender and silky,
finding each other off a worn path.
In a photograph never taken
they stand together in fields of rice,
rubber trees and birthday cakes
with blue frosting. Voices climb out
and light rays refract then converge
on one spring calendar day
like coordinates in a crossfire.

essay "Recovery" in Upstreet, issue #12
summer 2016