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
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
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
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
in the pasture.
if i could stitch
into a word this
hideous choir of men,
sew for you
this severed hour
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 Review, Smartish Pace, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Cimarron Review, Painted 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.