“If I break you are you mine?”
_______________-Jorie Graham

they all want to know is it true,
is it true–and what to say
anymore when light is two
ropes of pain down
the back, what I call
wing-ache ever since the boy
who called his scapula wings
left for boot camp, every
so often I remember crying
in the back of his van the night
before he signed, finally, up, saying
war, war, death, wheelchair, war,
and he: what war? we’re not going
to war. war for what?
and eight
months later, war. though
he never saw it, his brain swollen
inside his cranium thanks to some incident
never spoken of from combat training–is it true,
is it true her mother tied her to a chair, did
the neighbor chase her, worse, into a rotting
basement, is it true you didn’t know, all
that time, that gawker’s parade of legs
through your very bedroom–I pour half
a glass, the remaining half, straight
into the steaming bath. yes, yes. all true
I say, and there I have you, there’s
the bait, how to separate the wine
from the water when you are so,
so thirsty.

Marty McConnell