The mortar shell’s wrumph, hollow impact,
as if God’s hands clap barrel ribs
from round to oval, heart and lungs both
emptying abruptly, whoosh of air and blood
ejected, eyes gone round—the sudden size
of surly death’s surreal surprise.
Arbitrary decision—political derision—no fact,
just Twitter madness, I never said that! Lies! Fibs!
It is suddenly over, peace gone south—
the sounds of war begun once more, flood
of noise, fear that claws from chest to throat, the rise
of mother’s shrieks, child’s cries.
We watch sand and scrub and wracked,
shattered landscape, the talking head’s glib
assertions, hear their words, watch their mouths.
Here in our quiet suburban neighborhood
we switch channels, find yellower sun, bluer skies—
any camouflage we can devise.
Roy Beckemeyer’s latest poetry collection is Mouth Brimming Over (Blue Cedar Press, 2019). Stage Whispers (Meadowlark Books, 2018) won the 2019 Nelson Poetry Book Award. Amanuensis Angel (Spartan Press, 2018) assembled ekphrastic poems inspired by depictions of angels in works of modern art. Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Press, 2014) was a 2015 Kansas Notable Book. He is on the editorial boards of Konza Journal and River City Poetry. Beckemeyer lives in Wichita, Kansas. His poetry work has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net awards and was selected for Best Small Fictions 2019. Beckemeyer is a retired engineer and scientific journal editor; he and his wife, Pat, celebrated their 58th-anniversary in 2019. In his spare time, he researches the Paleozoic insect fauna of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Alabama, and the mechanics and evolution of insect flight. Visit his author’s page at: https://royjbeckemeyer.com/.
Laura Lee Washburn, Guest-Editor, is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize). Her poetry has appeared in such journals as TheNewVerse.News, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, and Valparaiso Review. Harbor Review‘s microchap prize is named in her honor.