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Three poems


David Cameron Sings the Brexit

It’s envy of the past that does us in.

High school promise unfulfilled: most likely

to succeed, or sing, or love. This was certain,

they’d wed. She’d write a novel. Dreams are free

at first, but interest compounds with longing:

how the Queen once weighed the globe in her palm;

your grandfathers too young to fight watching

Luftwaffe flares that burned above London

while Churchill’s desperate, bloodshot drinking songs

promised us the fantasy of control—

that our cause was just—that we had a cause

worth guarding. Now the fault lies in our souls,

which yearn for struggle without flag or fail,

forgetting failure’s what gives us to ourselves.

The Well of Meribah

(i.m. Philip Roth)

And Miriam died. The people

drank no water, gathered

in the desert of Zin, raised voice

against her brothers who vaulted

ochre staffs, beat the round stone

stone round as a man’s skull

until the fault opened, mouths

flooded in torrent of words.

Acoustic Shadows (The Battle of Perryville)

I.

Leonidas Polk

Bishop-General of the C.S.A.

arms raised to the dawn

pours cannon-smoke incense

swings his censer

grants communion to the hills.

II.

August’s drought stretched

into October.

The butterflies bathed

dancing

on crimson puddles

feast of soldiers’ blood.

III.

Was no one so desperate

fields dry, provisions seized

to ambush

the snuffling hogs

who swarmed from the wood

hunting truffles

in the mouths of the dead?

 

J.L. Wall’s work has appeared in Frontier Poetry and Jewish Fiction.Net and is forthcoming in America, Antigonish Review, and Modern Age. He has also published academic articles on modernist literature and written about the Chicago Cubs on the website of Baseball Prospectus. He studied Classics and writing at Northwestern University

and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, where he teaches.


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