Volume 23, Number 4

In Country

From the home front always the same
aspersions and insinuations about us
who serve on the front lines—cold,
calculating machines, no remorse, no
mercy, no pangs of guilt or regret.

They imagine us to be no more than
mechanical instruments of annihilation,
remotely controlled, but we know
different, we who serve the homeland.

I shall forge my own badge of honor,
refusing to submit myself to the repair
station where they would fit me out with
a brand-new silver alloy replacement
limb for the one the landmine tore away.

A new subsystem, a quick recalibration
and you’ll be good as new, they say,
polished, oiled and ready for action.
And tell me, where is the honor and
where is the patriotic sacrifice in that?

—Jeffrey Park