Volume 21, Number 1

Thirteen Things My Military Students Tell Me That They Can't Tell Their Parents

  1. My composition classes
    never seemed so worthless;

    they'll give their arms to return
    to these wasted chairs.

  2. Being polite
    is a shield,
    a way to forget
    friends covered
    by sand, storms,
    soot and shit.

  3. They'd tear the flags from
    their uniforms. Burn them.
    Burn every fiber. Watch

    the stripes burn to ashes.
    Inhale fumes from the burning
    threads. If they could.

  4. They never smoked before being called to duty.

  5. Some phone calls

    should be


  6. A motorcycle is
    heaven's temptation,

    a fantasy of heading

    south with no
    destination in mind.

  7. An e-mail means more
    than care packages
    containing bars of soap.

  8. They are afraid. Yes.

  9. Some days,
          they just want
    to sleep;
          they know it
    would be
          a waste of time.

  10. They'll miss Toledo's gray
    rain, the seagulls' V before
    the storm strikes, the thunder's
    drama as it rolls in.

  11. They no longer text
    the word goodbye.
    In print, it feels
    too final.

  12. When I ask for
          a fact,
    they tell me they
          will die.
    When I ask for
          a claim,
    they tell me

  13. After your first crew cut,
    everyone is a stranger.

—Anthony Frame