from Pat Clifford (2006), Embracing Brings You Back, Coteau Books
Returning home from France,
their throats and lungs burned out, spent soldiers share
my life: bone-cracked exhaustion, baldness, retching, mouth sores and the curse
of cramping diarrhea.
It took some smart American nerve gas scientists to put
two and two together over coffee, I imagine, brewed on Bunsen flames.
Guts and hair grow fast. As do cancer cells, so: why not? When we’re finished
with the Germans we can hit that other fucking shit, no?
My television shouts Iraq but I don’t need to travel half a world
away for the chemistry of mass destruction. My only hope
for survival squats in the sterile fluorescence of the Cancer Day
Care unit ten kilometers from my home, waiting.