Volume 25, Number 2

Why War

Backed back then
by the Old Testament’s
of sparing and spoiling,

we racked a homemade paddle
in the kitchen drawer, a chunk
of jigsawed 1x4,
intimidating upgrade

from a wooden spoon so thin
it cracked on its last whack
across a soft bottom
squirmed to hip. Our

enemies in the ’80s:
left-wingers in little nations,
any commies, of course,
already Iraq or Iran, depending,

and our two little boys,
not quite people, always
breaking the rule
not to act like kids. Loyal

to the patriotic kingdom
of a mega-church,
the divorce
still ten years away,

we were far from believing
in the pursuit of happiness
as natural—or even Jesus
loves you, this I know.

—D. R. James