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Sample Poems by Bill Glose


Men of His Generation


My father taught lessons
on right and wrong
with a belt. He hit me
in the face just once
when I back talked Mom.
As I lay on the floor,
defiant, he stabbed
a finger in the air.
You will respect
your mother!

Most lessons didn't need
words. When my sisters and I
were caught sneaking Kools
from his pack, he sat us on
hard-backed chairs to chain-smoke
through tears till the floor
was stained with hate.

Each time
we stubbed one out,
he'd light another, force it
in our mouths. We didn't know
that this was love,
but none of us
ever smoked again.


Exhuming the Past


Secrets buried in the back yard
like a dog's favorite bones. This
was the manner of my upbringing:
soft bruises of pain and desire
hiding beneath the apple's
glossy skin. Getting what I
want, a concept closeted
beneath a layer of dust.

Root through that cupboard,
and background music rises,
ominous as a scene from Hitchcock.
Dust- speckled shafts of light
pour over still-lifes posed in
black-and-white photos,
the same hopeful face
reflected in each frame's glass,
urging me to dig deeper,
uncover all the bones.



Father's Day


My father looks so young in the framed photo
on my dorm room wall. We're both wearing uniforms,
his the blue, medaled jacket of an Air Force pilot,
mine the gray wool of a cadet. Once, he was a student

at a desk like this, calculus spread out like a treasure map.
If I could fold time, what would I whisper in his ear?
Warnings of missiles he must dodge in Vietnam?
Stories of his toddler son playing with a toy version

of his plane? His wife at home clutching this picture
from my wall? I'd always thought he didn't need
comfort of words, but wearing my own wavy hair,
hazel eyes like solemn beads, I can finally see

the spear of doubt, colossus reduced to half a man.
I could call, ask for help, but my genes are banging pots,
pointing at areas under curves. The moon is pulling tides,
Earth wobbling around the sun, everything in its place.




Medevac


As our convoy paused fifty miles
inside Iraq, Blackhawks returned
from Euphrates Valley.

Reflective IFF triangles painted
on vehicles, "Battle Wagon,"
"War Truck," other graffiti splashed

across tailgates. We had yet to fire a shot,
but months mired in brown fueled hunger
for other colors. Cheers flew up

to helicopters until we saw red crosses
on their sides, rotor wash and sand
filling throats. Flying south were

bandaged tankers in MOPP gear,
zippered body bags at their feet.
As aircraft receded like pennies

dropped into a well, lungs reflated
with confidence of youth.
Our trucks rumbled toward Basra

in a column of dust. We sealed goggles,
tightened bandanas over mouths,
certain we would live forever.



Circumference of the World


Our foxholes form a circle: inside for us;
outside, them. Each hole wide enough

to hold a body like a grave. On rock-hard ground
we lie, sleep whispering beads of condensation

on ponchos wrapped around us. Who knows why
the heart beats? Only the slumbering mind

is brave enough to dream of daylight
that doesn't burn. Death teaches us to rise

before the spear of sun glances off atmosphere
to lance our tolerant gloom. Standing with chests

pressed against earth, we parse the ink in wedges,
imagine shadows in shadows, trees that come to life,

each rustling leaf bespeaking potential threat.
So much of life is silence, waiting, waiting.