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In Another Country a Small Town Is Forgotten

by Michael McManus

One minute you’re telling lies
to your buddy about cold beer and hot women
in some Austin bar that summer
before you went downrange
and into the minute after
where lies are forgotten because
the shot you hear
is followed by the near simultaneous
unforgettable sound of bullet
smashing into skull and exiting
into a slow-motion moment
when your buddy collapses face down
on the dusty ancient road of a city
one-hundred thousand miles
from the small Ohio town he grew up in
and left behind to come to where
he would leave his name as another
who would never hear
the suppressive fire that explodes
in his defense on the suspected location of the shooter
who won’t be found by the fear-faced boys
that go on screaming through their M4 carbines
that will turn them into men
as the field radio operator calls in coordinates
from behind a Humvee
where he wants to stay invisible
unlike the Apaches that soon racket overhead
hoping for a hard target to destroy
but for you it doesn’t matter
because as you cradle your buddy’s head
it’s like trying to piece together
a shattered clay pot.
And there’s blood on your hands.
So much blood on your hands.

A Pennsylvania native, Michael P. McManus has lived in Louisiana since 1986. He began to write in the late 90’s. His poems and short stories have appeared in many journals. He has been awarded a writing Fellowship from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, and the Virginia Award and Ocean’s Prize for poetry. He is a Navy Veteran and service-connected Disabled Veteran.

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