by Jason Diamond)
For National Poetry Month, Flavorwire will publish a poem a day throughout the week. Today’s poem comes from National Book Award finalist, Iraq war veteran, novelist and poet Kevin Powers’s collection, Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting. “Separation” by Kevin Powers I want the boys at the end of the bar to know, these Young Republicans in pink popped collar shirts, to know that laughter drives me mad and if one must be old before one dies, then we were old. Nineteen or twenty-three and we were old and now as the fan spins and the light shines off their gelled hair and nails, I want to rub their clean bodies in blood. I want my rifle and I want them to know how scared I am still, alone in bars these three years later when I notice it is gone. I want the boys at the end of the bar to know that my rifle weighed eight pounds when loaded and on my first day home I made a scene in a bar, so drunk that I screamed and wept and begged for someone to give it back. “How will I return fire?” I cried. I truly cried. But no one could give it back because it was gone and I felt so old: twenty-four and crying for my rifle and the boys at the end of the bar were laughing. Excerpted from the book LETTER COMPOSED DURING A LULL IN THE FIGHTING by Kevin Powers. Copyright © 2014 by Kevin Powers. Reprinted with permission of Little, Brown and Company.