Poem of the Week, by Brian Turner

Been sitting here for hours trying to choose the right poem. First I chose a classic one by Wilfred Owens, in WWI, but it was unbearable. Then I chose a lesser-known one by Archibald MacLeish, mid-20th century, but that one was also unbearable. Now I’ve been reading through Brian Turner’s Iraq war poems, and they too are unbearable. Because war is unbearable. So here we are.

Here, Bullet
– Brian Turner

If a body is what you want,
then here is bone and gristle and flesh.
Here is the clavicle-snapped wish,
the aorta’s opened valves, the leap
thought makes at the synaptic gap.
Here is the adrenaline rush you crave,
that inexorable flight, that insane puncture
into heat and blood. And I dare you to finish
what you’ve started. Because here, Bullet,
here is where I complete the word you bring
hissing through the air, here is where I moan
the barrel’s cold esophagus, triggering
my tongue’s explosives for the rifling I have
inside of me, each twist of the round
spun deeper, because here, Bullet,
here is where the world ends, every time.


–​For more information on Brian Turner, please click here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/240650

Poem of the Week, by Brian Turner

Someone once told me to think up a safe place where I could magically be transported when I needed to, when I had no reserves left to deal with whatever was going on around me. This place took about half a second to conjure itself up: a stream, flowers, grass, a sunny field beyond, and invisible me inside some kind of invisible hollow tree. Warm. I can see out but no one can see me. The sound of children playing nearby comes faintly through the invisible bark. There is nothing wrong, no tension and no anger in this place. I still go there sometimes, and the sense of it came rippling over me when I read this poem by Brian Turner.

     – Brian Turner
The curve of her hip where I’d lay my head,
that’s what I’m thinking of now, her fingers
gone slow through my hair on a blue day
ten thousand miles off in the future somewhere,
where the beer is so cold it sweats in your hand,
cool as her kissing you with crushed ice,
her tongue wet with blackberry and melon.
That’s what I’m thinking of now.
Because I’m all out of adrenaline,
all out of smoking incendiaries.
Somewhere deep in the landscape of the brain,
under the skull’s blue curving dome—
that’s where I am now, swaying
in a hammock by the water’s edge
as soldiers laugh and play volleyball
just down the beach, while others tan
and talk with the nurses who bring pills
to help them sleep. And if this is crazy,
then let this be my sanatorium,
let the doctors walk among us here
marking their charts as they will.
I have a lover with hair that falls
like autumn leaves on my skin.
Water that rolls in smooth and cool
as anesthesia. Birds that carry
all my bullets into the barrel of the sun.

​For more information on Brian Turner, please click here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/brian-turner​