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By Bradford White

Where was I in that fog,
when I first heard the hooves
thundering alongside unflashing apparitions?
When I felt its nares exhaling
molten atmosphere in hammered puffs
upon my neck?

Where was I,
when I turned and turned
and turned through that glowing sulfur
turning to see myself once again, a boy
in the wind listening for spring,
watching the lake rippling toward him?
“Very much like my mother’s hand
smoothing the wrinkles from newly pressed sheets,”
I once recalled to my wife in her hospital room.

Where am I now?
He thought scratching at the light
breaking across the fraying tablecloth.
From behind the wall in the other room
came the tocking chorus of the old oak clock.
Tocking and tocking as it had for forty three years,
Reminding him when to get up,
when to leave for work,
when to eat dinner,
when to sleep,
when to board,
when to arrive at the VC village,
when to release the bombs,
and when to turn away from the blinding evaporations
of a hundred burning exclamation marks.

Where will I go?
He groaned getting up, slowly making his way upstairs.
He went straight down the hall to the third room on the left,
and closed the door behind him.
(A closet door opened and closed.)

“Is there ever an honorable exit
from one’s personal quagmire?”
He mused before releasing the hammer
and committing the unanswerable questions
to the wall behind his head.

Bradford White served as an intelligence analyst in the Air Force from 2001-2003. He is currently a student at Georgetown University.

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