Thursday, September 15, 2011


The war lingers deep
behind my eyelids, mingles
with the charnel stench
of burning flesh and the high-
pitched snap of exploding
bone that battles the mundanity
of sweeping floors.

Death’s impartial gaze lies
buried in mounds of upturned soil.
Potholes full of freezing blood
ooze noisily with each faltered
step I take.  The ash settles
like a downy blanket thrown
over the bleeding land
as if to erase the evidence
of guilt and responsibility.
My rifle barrel drags
lower and lower behind me,
leaving a jagged trail for my innocence
to follow, a trail disappearing
in the slushy residue.

The wax dries
while I stand shivering
in the early winter snow,
smoking a cigarette.

The serenity of the moment
is shattered by the choking
memory of stick people
too starved to eat, too weak
to cheer, too lost to understand
their freedom.

The buzzer sounds, drawing
me back to the parking lot
entrance, the snow, the second
floor hallways demanding my
full attention.

About Robert P. Hansen:
Mr. Hansen currently teaches philosophy and ethics at a community college. He has had several poems and short stories published.

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