After the offensive, General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan moved to Virginia
& opened a pizza parlor.
The following summer, some boys came back to find
towns unlike the ones they’d left. In the center of town, each began to say things
to feel like citizens again, back & forth:
You ate lunch yet, man? Can’t believe it’s November already.
Stories of soldiers were made of images from across several seas—fatigued
row houses & wincing, firm stock of the arm & grip. Many feared return
as much as arrival, shutting their eyes
to lose the single tender memory
of war: concubines brushing hair back, fondling a final goodbye.
For months at a stretch, Loan didn’t much go out; he married
& ignored the newspapers. He lost count of his debts, no longer coherent
about the sincerity of time’s passing.
But starlings wove a nest in the shrubs
by the front door & sang for patrons who walked through it.
Can’t either man. Nope—there’s a new place down the block.
Loan tethered himself to his work again, but absent
violent transfiguration or exposé—a life of hypnagogic kneading,
an ovened, primitive restlessness.
The name of every month a portmanteau
whose roots he didn’t learn before dying.
Dave Harrity’s writing has appeared in Verse Daily, Forklift, Ohio, Copper Nickel, Palimpsest, Memorious, The Los Angeles Review, Softblow and elsewhere. His most recent book is Our Father in the Year of the Wolf (Word Farm, 2016). He is a recipient of an Emerging Artist Award and an Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council.