After a Reading of War Poems, the Signing of Books

By Ritterbusch, Dale | WLA ; War, Literature and the Arts, January 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

After a Reading of War Poems, the Signing of Books


Ritterbusch, Dale, WLA ; War, Literature and the Arts


I've never been asked this before,

asked to inscribe a book

for someone who's dead.

I can barely deal with death

in the backyard, voles preyed on

by cats, a squirrel caught in the rain barrel:

late, late fall and water as cold

as the gnarled hand of death;

my hand freezes as I pull out

the ice-stiff remains of squirrel.

It would take a month

of intense contemplation,

serious philosophical and theological

speculation on what would be done

with the book after it's signed

before I might come up with something

appropriate to say; I'm not a priest, not

a philosopher, not even human

half the time except when consumed

by anger, dreams of a holy vengeance.

Yes, the sacrament of revenge

defines me best and would give

this woman whose husband recently died

from wounds suffered in Vietnam,

wounds from decades ago, wounds

eating away every day of his life-solace?

A semblance of peace? Rectification

of wrongs? …

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