The Other War
by Liam Corley
Uncertain whether we expire
lolling in a bucket seat,
single-file on a path, or upright
in a briefing room
as walls roll back like curtains
furling on a smoking stage, we undertake
each duty in a brother’s place,
ill-equipped to sort civilians from the actors
trying merely to survive.
Black sap crusts to a mirror
in a bowl of stars gathered
on a child’s death-day, a weary
sorting through of scrap to start
the house anew.
Causeless in their wire coils,
surveyors push devices into lines
strung below a plank where feet will fall
decisive as a trigger squeeze before
the earth erupts.
The sleepless know the soul’s jihad, fought within
or out as times demand, approaching death
as murder or just consequence,
solid only to the bones
we mend, break, love.
Liam Corley is an OEF veteran. He teaches American literature at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona. His poetry is influenced by the authors he teaches as much as by his time in Afghanistan.