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Marc Swan, two poems

Silver Lake

Near the high-end furnishings store

next to the building where the ethnic market

stood before the robbery thirty-five years ago

and a brutal event changed the lives

of the older Asian couple who sold

the store and moved to the San Juan Islands,

there’s a coffee shop with six dollar cups

of coffee, breakfast plates for fifteen dollars

and a gathering of hipsters chatting, iPhones

in hand or nearby, sharing modern life

on a sunny day in LA. I'm seated at a small table

on the sidewalk with my wife, my good friend

and for an instant, maybe longer, I’m back

in the small white clapboard house with the lemon

tree, lime tree on Duane Street down the hill

from Apex where life had an easy, predictable flow,

every day filled with possibilities of the best kind

until a nine-year-old came into that store; her brain

splattered against the storefront glass

clicked the switch to a time of locked windows

and doors, distrust like an avenging angel

seething into our lives.


When the excavator lumbers into a field outside Vimy,

a bucket drops, teeth dig in, earth ripped

in giant swaths end to end. In the cavernous depth—

human remains: intact humerus, femur, tibia, left foot

in a well-worn leather boot, scapula,

and a skull—gaping hole in back, missing jaw in front.

Police are called, forensics, search for foul play. History

uncovered—bones of a World War One

soldier, one of 11000 Canadian casualties in this once

fortified place, many still missing in action today. Records

are kept. After months of analysis, tracking

down relatives to test for DNA— a Scot from Ontario,

joined Winnipeg's 8th in 1914. Thirty years old slowed

with a debilitating shoulder injury

an anthropologist says, pain he must have endured thru

the hard winter of 1917 into spring, Battle of Vimy Ridge,

ending with a bullet to his brain.

The war to end all wars…


Marc Swan is a retired vocational rehabilitation counselor. His poems have recently been published or forthcoming in Scrivener Creative Review, Sanskrit, The Antigonish Review, Mudfish, Gargoyle, Midwest Quarterly, Nuclear Impact Anthology, among others. His third collection, Simple Distraction, was published by Tall-Lighthouse, London, England. He lives with his wife Dd in Portland Maine.

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