Adam Chiles

 

Somme

heart-song, my blood-spoor, i sit in this mud

like a child, my chambers aching, i sit

gilded to the acre, my little tenors

of the raw, my quartet burning,

my bell in the singing

dark,

 

i sit with you, my dear blood-helmet,

with your shadow chant, sperming

the flame-meadow, orphaned

in the chorus of choking

in my bleeding doors

of song,

 

 

if

if i could speak, father.

if i could find the tongue.

if i could utter

this gullied avenue

of rat. if i could

burn what i have seen

into the pores of

a word, dig a path

to its mean-core, spill

my skinned hour

into the evening glove.

if i could clasp

one flame, carry it

to the shadow-land

of your ear, singe

your bone-eaves.

if i could seed one

column of light, father.

if i could translate

one drained eye.

if i could utter

the red vowel

of this land: mouths 

blistering

in the pasture.

if i could stitch

into a word this

hideous choir of men, 

sew for you

this severed hour

with light.

 

 

 

Crucifix

we walk through the oven-mouths, through the drains,

eyes fastened to the crucifix, to the gun barrel

welded at its base. 
                                 

we walk through the bullet – its mercy, its covenant.

 

everywhere, men are lying down in the sun.

heat thumbs at their drowning lids.

 

a man is forgiving his hand for losing its fingers.

 

he carries the weeping palm

like a scrap of doctrine

over the mud.

 

 

as light fails, as artillery holds still.

as cannons swallow back their iron.

as rifles lower their eyes, lean against the ditches.

as bullets doze in their chambers of steel.

as knives rest tongues, clean their lips with brandy.

as bombs lie still under the cooling wing.

as they dream with heavy stomach.

as grenades loosen belts and quiet their voices.

as helmets rock their minds to sleep.

as plane stretches its limbs in a bed of fire.

as fire warms fingers above the corn.

as light camps down in a pool of mud.

as stretchers open their mouths across the valley

 

 

Adam Chiles’ work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Best New Poets 2006, Indiana ReviewSmartish PaceThe Beloit Poetry JournalCimarron ReviewPainted Bride Quarterly and Pebble Lake Review. His first book Evening Land will be published by Cinnamon Press in the UK next summer. He currently teaches English and Creative Writing at Northern Virginia Community College.

 

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