The war meant nothing to me, except what I couldn't avoid on TV.
Heat cake in the desert, black forest, mouth full of plans,

arm shot with red, venom, then training—bigger, harder, united we—
changed the channel quick, but sometimes things got through—

this bomb, that flag, fake pregnant bellies blowing up cars,
mad children with sticks, dead children with guns.

My brother wasn't the same when he got back.
He didn't want to talk about it, which was fine by me,

but parts of him kept telling things: eyes startled
at loud sounds, one hand slept on the butt of a gun.

With the TV on he was always more interested in what was for sale.
The man on the corner shouting, cryptonym, delta, buy me some lime!

His girlfriend fell down the stairs. His girlfriend walked into the door.
His dog ran away. His fingers bled teeth, knuckles wept in heat.

After Anders came home in a box we weren't allowed to see,
my brother filled the walls with holes.

"Shadows," he said.

He shot every
one.

About the Poet

Elizabeth J. Colen’s work has recently appeared in The Normal School, Exquisite Corpse, Packingtown Review, and other venues. Her first book of poems, Money for Sunsets was released this year. Flash fiction chapbook Dear Mother Monster, Dear Daughter Mistake will be published with Rose Metal Press in early 2011.