Magazine article WLA ; War, Literature and the Arts


Magazine article WLA ; War, Literature and the Arts


Article excerpt

-for Bruce Weigl

... I close my eyes and see the girl

running from her village, napalm

stuck to her dress like jelly,

her hands reaching for the no one

who waits in waves of heat before her.

- "Song of Napalm," Bruce Weigl

Hurtling through the endless shrouded

gauntlet of Bragg Boulevard-

the machinery, the certainty,

of war secreted matter-of-factly

on either side of it-everything

arrested, etherized-the only danger

a broken tequila bottle

on the sand spit shoulder, neon

signs for bars and guns and tattoos,

a couple Rangers in camos

who nearly drop a mattress from Badcock's

they're loading in a pickup-

I carry Song of Napalm,

a first edition, on its jacket face

a helmeted GI, mouth agape

in mute keen. The glowing font

is napalm orange-Song and of

burning over the soldier's eyes,

Napalm scored across his nostrils.

In the watery lamplight,

on the table next to my hotel bed,

the volume shape-shifts like a hologram.

It pages to black tunnels, wending on and on.

Even the beautiful detonates.

Yet the rounds in that book, its shrapnel,

lethal trope and caliber, remain humble,

almost shy, in combat-

purity that becomes Buddha.

Versed in the lotus,

the poet makes a small place for defeat.

It is sleep he yearns for;

war is an insomniac.

The little girl in the poem,

dedicated to his wife

(which I find soothing, here

in a strange room, without my wife),

is Kim Phúc, naked, fleeing

Trang Bang in '72-

Nick Ut's famous photograph, Napalm Girl. …

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