40 Days

sleepwalker can never die
he is the chemical soldier
composite of latex
and atropine,
hellfire, warthogs,
desolation, pride,
apaches, lasers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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: Sleepwalker (1992)
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