Archive for Sunday, March 2, 2008

Poet’s Showcase

Loquacious Soldier” by John Clifford

March 2, 2008


Loquacious Soldier

By John Clifford

They should never have drafted

his tongue into the army.

We others left our civil selves behind,

muffled our home-hearts with

wads of soldier profanity. Nowhere

could he escape. He said:

"Amplify the sound of land crabs

and I hear a flat john boat scraping

the shore of a gravel-bed stream."

Civilian-soldiers grew schizoid

when he talked in the jungle night.

"You're driving on a hot day

in a car of oven-metal. Then the rain

comes rolling down the highway,

pushing that first cool draught of air,

and it has that wet-asphalt smell

cold water brings out of hot pavement."

He bought his packet yesterday-

zapped, they said, in mid-sentence.

A few may have sighed relief.

Not I - though he had affected me.

Lying on the swampy ground, I line

my rifle-sights on a thin figure

crawling by a rice field. My senses

should be focused on his death,

but my memory plays tricks

and I hear that silenced voice:

"As a child I killed a tree

in a neighbor's woods.

And I never see it, white

among the old ones dark and living,

that I am not reproached."

John Clifford lives in Lawrence.


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