Poetry Award

The Homefront
from Clarion #0 1998
(the issue entitled "?")
by Jennifer Herron

O my crestfallen soldiers
Hearts of hearts and spades of spades
The war's bitter ends have left us desolate
Our virgin plains invaded
And our livery belts abandoned by Diana
Who but to think emptiness?

Proteus is slain
Words of solemn oaths, marred
Our breastplates lie charred
In the mass heaps of the dead
Lovers were the first to go
Poets were the last
And you, my soldiers
Strengthened by bitterness
Comforted by death's wretched stare
O despair not
The dawn settles on the new day
Light, falling
Illuminating the ashes of the dead.

Father is gone now
Unmistakable odor of ginger and sawdust,
no more
Vanilla lace on my bedspread
not quite so pretty with red
The velvet he brought back
from the last empire conquered
Still smooth, but underneath
The corruption.

Palm leaves
spread across the roof of the hut
Rain tapping,
only dripping in through a hole or two
Mother, sitting in front of a mirror,
lacing and unlacing
Sister, watching the storm
barreling across our empty sky

My arms felt nice against my stomach
The sheets, smooth, fine across my back
Odd place to be, but never want to go home.

O brother, brother,
The herald angel sings, stops
No use to me unless red across a battlefield.

The heather gray dawn
The ocean admits a path of gold
Glory admits to being sold
South, always south is the mind
The hollowed out shouts of forgotten men
Their brisk arms,
clutching and un-clutching
Lightly fingering the shape of the trigger
The cold metal in the soft drizzle dawn.

And what does loneliness accomplish?

Forgotten women of the wars
Soldiers in the garments of grace.

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