40 Days

By Tom Clark b. 1941 Tom Clark
sleepwalker can never die
he is the chemical soldier
composite of latex
and atropine,
hellfire, warthogs,
desolation, pride,
apaches, lasers,
dust

devils swirling,
screaming fire
deaths, machine
worship, young blond
pilots flashing thumbs
up, excited smiles
of interviewed
military wives, shrapnel-

paced rockeye
anti-personnel
bombs spraying
death like fireflies
over a texas barbecue
of human flesh
stretching sixty miles
across open desert,

armageddon
over eden, algebraic
mosaic
of witchcraft, dot
pattern magic of omens
and signs,
victims never
knowing what

hit them, vivid
delivery of hell
to nineveh,
incendiary
reduction of tissue
to shadows on the sand,
incineration of boots
with human feet still

in them, pain,
mania,
technology,
history, delirious
victims bleeding,
eagle with the brains
of a weak and

frightened victim in
its beak, unhappy
fate, grief,
shame, helpless
rage

Tom Clark, “40 Days” from Light and Shade: New and Selected Poems. Copyright � 2006 by Tom Clark. Used with the permission of Coffee House Press, www.coffeehousepress.org.

Source: Sleepwalkers Fate: New and Selected Poems (1992)

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Poet Tom Clark b. 1941

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School (2nd Generation)

Subjects War & Conflict, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

Tom Clark has combined the diverse roles of poet, biographer, novelist, dramatist, reviewer, and sportswriter during his writing career. In addition to dozens of books of poetry, a play, two novels, two story collections, and numerous biographies of literary figures, Clark's works include a book co-written with star baseball pitcher Mark Fidrych, poems about such sports legends as Catfish Hunter, Vida Blue and Bert Campaneris, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT War & Conflict, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School (2nd Generation)

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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