more tender than they ever were with
him vanishing despite her forlorn
prayers. what does “beloved”
mean through the tubes and wires,
the sour smell of human suffering
the robotic monotony of the ventilator?
she begs him to recognize her through
his gas mask and helmet, lost in some
no-man’s land of the soul, futilely
engaged in chemical battle,
exhaling the astringent mustard gas
of medical trench warfare.
o, juice of the poppy, best friend to
metastasis, pull him into your dreams.
let his spirit dance freely, hovering over
machine and mourner. let him float at last
in fields of red poppies, singing victory
over this painful shell so gladly shed.
Brian Yapko is a lawyer whose poems have appeared in Prometheus Dreaming, Tofu Ink, Sparks of Calliope, Wingless Dreamer, Gyroscope, Cagibi, Penumbra, the Society of Classical Poets, Grand Little Things, Chained Muse, Abstract Elephant, Poetica and a number of other publications. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his husband, Jerry, and their canine child, Bianca.