You lived long, and carefully.
You knew the prairie wind,
how it can call all through long January nights,
how sometimes settlers would listen
and step from their houses, thin topsoil crunching
under boots or rising to meet bare toes,
and in the morning there would be no trace
of their passing. The storm does this.
I have listened to the wind’s song, and I think
I will not live so long. It does not concern me.
But this: I matured in a decade
of madness, assaults on an enemy
we were told was hiding in desert ratholes
or mountain caves, where people hold
centuries-old ways, and older
grudges. (the ones who say this think we are different.
I do not know who they mean by we.)
They fight a concept,
a tick growing fat on assassinations, uranium shells,
drone strikes (this is a convenient way of killing
as impersonal as any strip mall).
No one can tell me if they believe they will win,
if they think fighting makes them strong.
You have been gone twenty years now, more than twenty.
They award Peace Prizes to men who have done nothing,
and worse than nothing. The wind does not care
about Mr. Nobel. It does not care about you, Bill,
or me. It is the wind.
I do not know if monsters can be overcome,
if the new great extinction can be halted, or slowed.
I dream of that gleaming face, at times.
Will you tell me what this means?
Yesterday, at dusk, a cold front came battering
against my door, sweeping from the West,
striking bare branches against windows,
stirring the dog as he watched the fire burn low.
A shriek. I rushed in terror to the window.
Two children chased each other in circles, laughing.
~ Izzy Wasserstein
Izzy Wasserstein is the author of This Ecstasy They Call Damnation, a 2013 Kansas Notable Book. Izzy teaches at Washburn University, runs long distance slowly, and shares a home with a cat and three dogs.
Guest Editor Tyler Robert Sheldon is a Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of First Breaths of Arrival (Oil Hill Press, 2016), and Traumas (Yellow Flag Press, 2017). His poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in such venues as Quiddity International Literary Journal, The Midwest Quarterly, Coal City Review, The Prairie Journal of Canadian Literature, The Dos Passos Review, Entropy Magazine, and others. He earned his MA in English at Emporia State University, and is now an MFA candidate at McNeese State University. View his work at tyrsheldon.wixsite.com/trspoetry.