>Warnings

>First it was Joyce Carol Oates,
talking about watching whole nations live
in a state of denial.

Then it was a widow, who lost her husband
in The Vietnam War–the same war, which
the Vietnamese call The American War–
who said that on the day before he left for duty,
she wanted to smash his hand with an iron skillet,
breaking his bones, so that he could not go to war.

Later, someone says “You would be amazed
at how many would go when their name is called.”
The train lurches forward, shudders, continues on.
“People you thought you knew.”

The whole world is of warnings.
Generations of foreshadowing, so delicate
and deliberate that only the very old can see it.
What is left, then,
after everyone has said “I told you so?”

There is only the lingering weight.
Of boots on sand and marsh.
Of children on the actions of landmines.



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