Liz’s Weekly Poetry Series: Carrying The Darkness

by lizard

The title of this post—Carrying The Darkness—comes from the title of an anthology of Vietnam War poetry edited by W. D. Ehrhart and published by the Texas Tech University Press in 1989. Here’s a quick bio of the editor from the link:

W. D. Ehrhart (b.1948) enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1966 at the age of 17. He fought in Vietnam with 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, receiving the Purple Heart Medal, the Navy Combat Action Ribbon, and two Presidential Unit Citations, and earned the rank of sergeant.

The poem I’ve selected is from John Balaban, titled After Our War.



After our war, the dismembered bits
—all those pierced eyes, ear slivers, jaw splinters,
gouged lips, odd tibias, skin flaps, and toes—
came squinting, wobbling, jabbering back.
The genitals, of course, were the most bizarre,
inching along roads like glowworms and slugs.
The living wanted them back, but good as new.
The dead, of course, had no use for them.
And the ghosts, the tens of thousands of abandoned
who had appeared like swamp fog in the city streets,
on the evening altars, and on doorsills of cratered
also had no use for the scraps and bits
because, in their opinion, they looked good without
Since all things naturally return to their source,
these snags and tatters arrived, with immigrant
in the United States. It was almost home.
So, now, one can sometimes see a friend or a famous
    man talking
with an extra pair of lips glued and yammering on his
and this is why handshakes are often unpleasant,
why it is better, sometimes, not to look another in the
why, at your daughter’s breast thickens a hard keloidal
After the war, with such Cheshire cats grinning in our
will the ancient tales still tell us new truths?
Will the myriad world surrender new metaphor?
After our war, how will love speak?

—John Balaban

  1. Turner

    Excellent poem.

  1. 1 Liz’s Weekly Poetry Series: Anticipating April | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Carrying The Darkness […]

  2. 2 152 Poetry Posts to Celebrate April, National Poetry Month | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Carrying The Darkness […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

  • Pages

  • Recent Comments

    Miles on A New Shelter for Vets or an E…
    success rate for In… on Thirty years ago ARCO killed A…
    Warrior for the Lord on The Dark Side of Colorado
    Linda Kelley-Miller on The Dark Side of Colorado
    Dan on A New Shelter for Vets or an E…
    Former Prosecutor Se… on Former Chief Deputy County Att…
    JediPeaceFrog on Montana AG Tim Fox and US Rep.…
  • Recent Posts

  • Blog Stats

    • 1,691,415 hits
  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 2,734 other followers

  • May 2012
    S M T W T F S
  • Categories

%d bloggers like this: