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A Friend Killed in the War

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Night, the fat serpent, slipped among the plants,
Intent upon the apples of his eyes;
A heavy bandoleer hung like a prize
Around his neck, and tropical red ants
Mounted his body, and he heard advance,
Little by little, the thin female cries
Of mortar shells. He thought of Paradise.
Such is the vision that extremity grants.

In the clean brightness of magnesium
Flares, there were seven angels by a tree.
Their hair flashed diamonds, and they made him doubt
They were not really from Elysium.
And his flesh opened like a peony,
Red at the heart, white petals furling out.

Source: Poetry (September 2011)

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This poem originally appeared in the September 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

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A Friend Killed in the War

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