One week before deployment,
we staged his wedding
behind India company’s barracks.

In the smoke-pit, his seabag
is stacked with issued gear:
shit-paper, load bearing vests.

One week before deployment,
she carried a bouquet of sand
in a Coors Lite can down the aisle.

The wedding party was a fire-team;
with the best man in a wife beater,
his bride walked the beach in a Goodwill dress

One full week before deployment,
he had a thought: combat pay
with dependents is twice as much

In the smoke-pit, his seabag
is stacked with issued gear:
diesel drums, canteen cups, flack jackets.

The whole week before deployment,
Their couch quartered a shit-canned
best man a honeymoon went unused.

In the smoke-pit, a seabag stacked
with issued gear: Malaria pills
anthrax vaccine and typhus, face paint.

for deployment five-man flocks of shitbirds—
load stacked gear: trauma plates and three point
lazar sights, E-tools, parachutes and pistol-grips

For five years she sang:

maa                 nee                              rah

come                  to                          the house

my tamarisk drinks no water,
dust lies on door and bolt,
the garden like a lament the city lifts

its lord, in five years
on a front lawn,
an aborted mission
a triangle folded flag.

By Aaron Graham


Aaron Graham hails from Glenrock, Wyoming, population 1159, which boasts seven bars, six churches, a single 4-way stop sign and no stoplights. He served as the assistant editor for the Squaw Valley Review, is an alumnus of Squaw Valley Writers Workshop and The Ashbury Home School (Hudson), and was recently the “Cecilia Baker Memorial Visiting Scholar” for the 2016 Seaside Writer’s Conference. Aaron is a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq where he served with The Marine Corps’ Human Intelligence and Counterterrorism Task Force Middle East as an analyst and linguist.

His work has appeared in Cleaver Magazine, Print Oriented Bastards, SAND, The Tishman Review, The East Bay Review, Zero-Dark-Thirty and f(r)iction, His poems have been Finalists in the Tishman Review’s 2015 Poetry Contest, Tethered by Letters’ 2016 Poetry Contest, Sequestrum’s New Writer Awards, and was a national finalist for The Luminaire Award. His chapbook “Skyping from a Combat Zone” was Shortlisted for Tupelo Press’s 2016 Sunken Garden Prize. His first full length collection, “Blood Stripes”, was a finalist for Tupelo’s 2015 Berkshire Poetry Prize, and his poem, “Olfaction”, won the Seven Hills Literary Journal’s Penumbra Poetry Prize. Aaron is currently finishing his PhD in Literature at Emory University.

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