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Archive for Sunday, March 2, 2008

Poet’s Showcase

Loquacious Soldier” by John Clifford

March 2, 2008

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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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