The Summer Joe Joined the Army

The Summer Joe Joined the Army


Walt Nygard

Sample Poem

Photo of a Night Firing: Bravo 4/25

Instant illumination
bright white blast
on a photograph
of an ink black
Afghan night,
great barreled
sending one deep
into the ancient
mountains of Kunar.

The soldiers are small
dark figures against
reflected light flashed
on Hesco walls topped
with coiled wire.
Some seem to cover
their ears against
the explosion of the gun.
A foreground soldier leans,
nonchalant on a Humvee hood.

Instant illumination,
bright white light
of recognition
of an ink black
fact…look hard
at the soldiers
at their gun…
one of them is my son,
with his American brothers
in the night.

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Walt Nygard’s poetry mines popular culture and literary traditions, seeking ways for a modern-day bard to convey the nature of things today. Poems in this collection burst like midnight flares beyond the stark bounds of war poetry to illuminate the unsettling terrain on the home front for a disillusioned Vietnam veteran whose son marched off to a new war: “my oldest boy,” laments this gray-haired vet, deployed to distant battles over oil and gas supplies from a suburban state whose prime patriotic symbol consists of “American flags flappin’/over car dealerships an’/mini-malls…wind-bent, storm-lashed/almost to the point/a’snappin’…” Jan Barry, co-editor of Winning Hearts & Minds: War Poems by Vietnam Veterans