Aaron Graham

Issue #
January 31, 2017

And Other Nightmares

If there’s something in the milk
then the milk ain’t clean and you are standing in ruins.
My boot on grass won’t grow roots—
boot in sand
erodes foot-flesh
so when spirits hits boot—
its already home.
Home is an intersection
of joy and pain
so boots gotta run—
like Whitehouse paint.

When I stand in ruins—praise God
that I cannot tell a difference
between the weeping and the meaning
that teaches me reality.
I wanna see scars.

I think those children
from Ramadi,
who can’t be trusted
with the liability
of full stomachs,
had best be getting
home now.

The little boy from Jaffa—
whose broken arm I set—

he didn’t know
his name.

All he knew—
the family
once murdered
grew green
meaty eyes,
and lived in
the flowers.

One time
I saw an Iraqi kid bleed

through five shirts when
I couldn’t pray loud enough
in Latin or Arabic to make

his blood stop.
Then limply left

his body, bled out in the sands—
I realize I’m bawling,

staggering around blur-eyed,
and don’t know where my rifle is.

I don’t really believe
in preventative medicine—
yearly checkups, crushed
up herbs, rabbits
feet, chicken bones
and going to church.
Not cause I don’t believe
in God. Cause I don’t believe
in too much
preemptive fucking around.
I believe in battlefield medicine—
artery clamps, quick
clot, and syringes dripping
with morphine.
I believe my life used to be
a lot more clean—
and edge-dressed cloraframs
black like burning forests
After plasma transfusions
from navy docs,
out processing papers
and S-3 shops, pain
pill bottles, and fentanyl lollipops
I still remember the quickclot
is for the artery, when the bleeding
doesn’t stop.

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