Liam Corley

In Country

BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front)

“Crossing the river
brings a great empire
down.” Admire the Pythia as we will,
even plain truth and calibrated
probability cannot prevent besotted consumers
from a wayward path.

“What king, when he sets out to war,
will not first sit down
and consider?” So says
the Prince of Peace, ever
an economist of blood.

Cast the bones,
dry bones,
and tell me, son of man,
what the dead say
about the harvest
of a future fight.

No shame, prophet,
to hide your face
inside your face
that you may see
the better hand taken
by the shitty one
you dealt.

After the Fire by Russ Allison Loar

In Country

The dog-tag laced to the right boot
winks an S-O-S from its unmarred
metal face whenever the
yellow sun
tungsten lamp or
Surefire personal illumination device
reflects to interested eyes
the bearer’s
parental application of a name, and place
in the inventory of the state.

The other boot is left
with no sign it will ever drop,
its severe mate testimony
to the old saw that right
sometimes gets lost
sometimes gets in the way
of coming back in one

The necklace tag reflects little
other than the promised
repatriation of remains,
a covenant against stately graves
established in preceding wars
and set in places citizens would like to visit.

No such guarantee insures returning heads
or their cargoes of haunted valleys
electric firings and bruising
pulses of subterranean light.

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