Soldier, throw down your arm, wipe the other one
of the blood, request the medic's tourniquet,
    return to base, beg them cut clean your bone,
accept the folded skin, the black, livid
    stitches. Requesting disabled deployment?
    Re: Yeah, I want back in action again.

    Private, sent in Iraq One, left Somalia un-won,
now poppies and dust, the high crags stoned with
    snow, land of the Kafirs' pride which your son might
some day see then die—. In those snow-capped crags the
    snow leopard, blurred through binoculars,
    recklessly attacks panicked, clattering yak.

    Strong-Armed Christ, mouth bloodied by the wheel,
your doorless Humvee's left Lieutenant legless, also
    aghast. From a klik a village quits its work,
squints from their field toward the blast, toward you.
    Flail your good arm in distress. Wave,
    let them save you.

About the Poet

After working as a carpenter in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Ohio, Eric Schwerer earned a PhD in Creative Writing from Ohio University. Prior to that, he received an MFA from The University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. Schwerer has taught poetry to people recovering from mental illness and is an Associate Professor in the Program in Creative and Professional Writing at the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown. He is the author of two books of poetry, The Saint of Withdrawal (2006) and Whittling Lessons (2005). His poems have been published in many literary journals, including Prairie Schooner, NOR, Paper Street, Fence, The Journal, Diagram, Third Coast, Quarter After Eight, The Laurel Review, Poems & Plays, Elixir, and Cumberland River Review.