Volume 24, Number 1


A lank walker in a windbreaker
grips his iPod like a
hand grenade, ear buds
tethering the deadly balloon

of his head as he speeds
toward the park, past me parceled
and peevish in my vehicle, idling. He
boards his bus, whose folding doors

open slowly like a yawn hung
sideways, which I’m feeling
in my van, in my gums, the FM
giddy and bummed announcing

we’ve only finished half the job
in Afghanistan—the half that
necessitates a second half.
In the same ten years

my two middle-schoolers zoomed
from skate shoes and attitudes through
two huge universities, their growth charts
penciled on the doorframe as if

to bar-graph the body count,
and I wonder who exactly nurtured
all those other pierceable sons
into the maw and paw

of roadside bombs? The red light
flicks to green and I thank-you-ma’am
through the mine field
of winter salt and tax cuts, bounce

through a big one, look up just in time
to see the walker in a window
beam and take his seat, bend as if
to pray and pull his pin.

—D.R. James