February 14, 2018

Bill Glose

PHASES OF ERASURE: A SOLDIER’S JOURNEY

I. Phase Line Whiskey

“Love” was the first word uttered after “Mama” and “Papa,” 
who scratched your babbling language into a memory book 
to mark milestones from your childhood, a dictionary that grew
wide as distance between stars. The first time a new principle 
was introduced—gravity keeps us down; it’s impossible
to disappear—you always questioned why. Your parents 
encouraged you to walk, to run, to leap. Your mind knew 
nothing of boundaries, the barriers preventing fantasies 
from becoming real. In your world, matters of the soul 
harmonized with crickets’ heartbeats. When neighborhood kids
trampled the line of daylilies by the duck pond, you cried,
confused by cheerful shows of power and dominance.
Your lust was for all things green and growing. Not a thing
flew in the blue sky that did not make you want to soar.
Fireworks on Fourth of July made you think of kaleidoscopes—
the sparkled bombs exploding high up in the black—and 
the tattered, tumbling, cardboard shrapnel of falling leaves.

Dreams full of joy, a boy in your pajamas flying out of bed, 
no pain when you thudded to the carpet in a room filled 
with Matchbox cars and toy soldiers. Your last thought
on nights when the full moon swallowed your window,
wondering if tomorrow you might wake up on its foreign soil, 
wondering whether life would be cockeyed peering down through
your window like a mourner peeking into a grave or if 
your beating heart would still find magic among its craters.
God knows how many times you took apart toasters and clocks, 
having to know what slows the hour hand, which cog locks in
with which gear to combat the slippage of seconds.
And how many times you picked through trash cans, 
searching every nook, prying apart shadows until 
each hidden treasure becomes yours. The only enemy
you’d ever known was ignorance; the only mystery:
how every unturned stone did not ignite everyone’s curiosity.
“Who can hide the longest?” was your favorite 
game, the cavern behind your captain’s bed becoming 
an improvised fort in which you’d sit for hours, 
imagining devices that might make you invisible, 
that might make your ridiculous wants come true. 
You longed to turn the magic spinning through your body 
into something tangible, an overcoat you could drape 
over inanimate objects to give them life, to fill 
every empty space with ideas stitched from the fabric 
of your dictionary, until the last void stoppers with 
the very last word. Your parents took away your only pet, 
a turtle, after exploring fingers got stuck a third time 
in its shell. Asking, “But what is inside?” You hated 
not touching the answer, something so full of possibility.

 

 

 

II. Phase Line Alpha

“Love” was the first word 
        scratched 
                               from your                      dictionary
                                                   the first                   principle 

to disappear                                                 . Your parents 
                                                                                   knew 
nothing of                    the 
                          real              world, matters of the 
                                          heart
trampled                                 by
                                                  power and
         lust                                                            . Not a thing
flew in the blue sky that did not make you 
                                                               think of
                     bombs                                                     and 
                                                     shrapnel                          .

Dreams        of 
     pain                                                                     filled 
                                                            Your 
     nights                                                                         ,
wondering if tomorrow                                           foreign soil
                                      would be 
your                                                               grave
your beating heart 
        knows how           time 
                                   slows                                                    in
                               combat 
        how 
                every                                shadow 
                                  becomes            The         enemy

how every unturned stone 
          can hide 

an improvised 
                 device   that 
                                                    wants 
                    to turn                                              your body 
into                                  an 
        inanimate object                             , to 
          empty 
    your dictionary, until the 
              last word 

in its shell                                 is                       hate 
                                                                                         .

 

 

 

 

III. Phase Line Romeo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

nothing 
                                                          matters 

 

 

                                                                             Not
             the blue sky              not 

 

 

 

Dreams        of 

 

 

                     tomorrow

your
        beating heart 

                                   slows

 

 

                                  becomes

                                 stone 

from Rattle #58, Winter 2017

[download audio]

__________

Bill Glose: “For ten years after serving in the Army, I followed the example of my father, a Vietnam veteran, and kept my experiences as a combat platoon leader bottled inside. Then I started attending open mics where each time a poet shared his or her personal burden the crowd would lift them up. It was then I started writing my war, the long-kept secrets and the hidden pains leaking out one cathartic driblet at a time.” (web)

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