Academic journal article Military Review

Here, Bullet

Academic journal article Military Review

Here, Bullet

Article excerpt

HERE, BULLET. Brian Turner, Alice James Books, Farmington, ME, 2005, 71 pages, $14.95.

The poets are always right: history is on their side.

-Bukharin to Stalin, 1934

Brian Turner, who holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing, served as an infantry team leader during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Here. Bullet is his debut book of 46 poems representing his combat experience. The book's cover depicts the near-monochromatic geometry of a Soldier who blends into the middle ground of a desert, evoking the Cubist scheme of devastated landscape in Paul Nash's painting We Are Making a New World (1918).

Turner probes the immense pathos of Iraq at war: "You hear the RPG [rocket propelled grenade] coming for you. / Not so the roadside bomb." Throughout, he forces us to face the terror: "Believe it when a twelveyear old / rolls a grenade into the room." Elsewhere a dying Soldier has "just enough blood / to cough up and drown in," and a civil affairs officer stares at his missing hands. In "Autopsy," a dead Soldier's heart is weighed by a mortuary affairs specialist who wonders how fast that heart once beat on the occasion of the Soldier's first kiss. Turner revisits some terrible paradoxes as in "The Al Harishma Weapons Market," where "an American death puts food on the table, / more cash than most men earn in an entire year." Still, in "Sadiq," "no matter what adrenaline / feeds the muscle its courage, /... it should break your heart to kill."

Turner draws deep affinities with history and his thematic vision is broad. In "Hwy 1," he reminds us that the invasion of Iraq was incipient in "the Highway of Death" of the first Gulf War, and even more anciently, along "/. …

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