A trail of blood runs down the bridge
of your nose. Hardened squinty eyes
look sideways to a future you defend
but may never see, and drooping
from the loose corner of your unlined mouth,
a dangling cigarette prevents words
from forming anywhere except your eyes,
which have grown so world-weary
your own Kentucky farmer father
didn’t recognize his son’s face beneath
that rounded helmet, blown up big
for the front page.

Stripped of all this nonsense –
too-big helmet, green chin strap,
tobacco crutch and swirling smoke –
you’re just a boy. This is no movie.
No white-clad nurse will whisper
softly in your ear and lay a smooth hand
upon your forehead if a gunshot wound
begins to kill you more quickly
than that cigarette. You drawl
to the reporter that when you come home
you’d like to have a smoke on your rooftop
and goddamnit I hope you live
long enough to kill yourself slowly
on a rooftop on a farm in America.

About Christine: Christine Langill is a participant in Tom Daley’s poetry workshop at the Boston Center for Adult Education and in the Goba Salon in Quincy, MA. While earning her BA at the University of Vermont she received an honorable mention for the Ora Mary Pelham Poetry Prize. This is her first publication. A Cape Cod native, she lives in Salem, MA, with her partner.

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