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Wednesday, March 22, 2006


by donnarkevic

Mark's fiancee doesn't wait. She runs off
with her orthodontist, no Dear John letter,
no kiss-my-ass, no nothin', except
the nuptial announcement Mark reads
in the hometown newspaper his mom strangles
and uses for stuffing in a care package to Kabul.
Next morning, an enemy ambush dings
his best two buddies. That evening Mark kills
a boy about to throw a grenade at the U.S. Embassy
like David at Goliath. In his lukewarm grip,
like a fist full of wedding rice, Mark finds a stone.

When Mark returns home, he resumes duties
in housekeeping at the county hospital,
cleaning on the graveyard shift:
The lobby, where he empties the ashes
of half-smoked cigarettes civilians waste;
Admissions, where the locals are told
Everything's going to be fine;
The gift shop, which sells propaganda,
yellow ribbons promising to Support our troops;
and, the chapel, where God, the little Quisling,
finds sanctuary and Mark finds him AWOL.

But Mark is never alone. Two shadows in fatigues
accompany him wherever he goes, guarding his flanks.
His shrink, who never saw combat, who never cradled
a dying comrade in his bloody arms, who never killed
anything more than a piss-warm bottle of beer,
calls it Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Mark calls it bullshit, and after punching
a hole in the office drywall, he marches,
a uniformed pair closing ranks, escorting him home.
Mark knows who has his back.

donnarkevic, Weston, WV. Recent publishing credits include Poetica, Poetry Motel, and The Fourth River. In 2005, Main Street Rag published her first poetry chapbook, Laundry. Also in 2005, her play The Interview won second place in the Palm Springs Playwrights Circle competition.