Desert on Detroit River (To Laurie)

Against the Current, No. 53, November/December 1994

Hasan Newash

Ribbons dangle, red and white
and blue, on Gina’s blouse
and she says they’re worn for you, Laurie!
and White House version is always true

The more T.V. we watch, the pollster says
the less informed; as Clarence, a Marine
is shipped to Riad `to save our jobs’
i.e., to kill `to save our’ sheiks
then locked for 26 months in Camp LeJeune
for saying no — and nobody knows

Discharged in dishonor, Clarence now is free
to work and welcome home a wife — perhaps
a .38 his cover at midnight walking
still upbeat, he proudly struts
in framing poetry, knocks on village doors
and counter tops on Lafayette
from 8:00 to 6:00 to find the white house version
`Blacks need not apply’ is not the answer
but `in Desert Storm dishonored too?’ he finds the question
desert on Riopelle, Jefferson too; and Brush is boarded-up
as rats are rampant

A rented frig his haven — eighteen a week —
he grips the final rope and drowns
his courage in failure — pays
in full his life at 23 ahead of schedule

Before the eyes of God, in Church of God
to a box his mother pays
in lies her final tribute:
“To our son, who proudly served this land
in Operation Desert Storm…”

Clarence, Laurie’s friend, denied, is pounding daily
on her temples searching hearing for his lyrics

ATC 53, November-December 1994