God, Who Gives These Young Men Guns?
When I talk to God
I use masculine pronouns –
I hate to admit it.
Maybe because God
allowed twenty first-graders
to be slaughtered in school
in a town near mine,
while I was in the Stop & Shop
probably squeezing plums.
Ten years ago.
Who gives all these young men guns?
If God were a mother,
I don’t think She would do it.
Elizabeth Edelglass is a fiction writer and book reviewer who finds herself writing poetry in response to today’s world—personal, national, and global. Her fiction has won the Reynolds Price Fiction Prize, the William Saroyan Centennial Prize, the Lilith short story contest, and the Lawrence Foundation Prize from Michigan Quarterly Review. Her poem “No Mention” recently won third prize in the Voices of Israel Reuben Rose Poetry Competition.
God, Guns & Ginny
Well, of course it was righteous.
Bear any burden, pay any price,
what you could do for your country.
Godless communists, after all.
You may have been only seventeen,
but you’d seen them already
in Hungary, Cuba, Berlin.
Something had to be done,
and someone would have to do it.
There is something about a thatched-roof
hut in the middle of rice fields, burning,
a mortally wounded woman softly
keening, child dead in her arms,
that can’t be blamed on Chairman Mao,
Castro, Lenin, or Das Kapital.
Heavy artillery flattened that home.
Ours. Our guns did that.
Long before I reached my thirteen months,
I discovered I had nothing to cling to
but a girl back home. A young girl.
Still in high school. Watching her friends
go out on dates, having fun, enjoying
all of the things that seniors do
for the last exuberant time together.
She must have agonized for months
before she sent me that final letter.
I hope she’s had a nice life. I mean it.
W. D. Ehrhart is an ex-Marine sergeant and veteran of the American War in Vietnam. His latest book is Thank You for Your Service: Collected Poems, McFarland & Company.