War Nursing

(for Cassandra)


Another bizarre moment

You clapping


the shattered Iraqi men

around the prison ward

in shambling dance

with a transported

smile on your sweet bronze face

lip-synching your favorite

boom-box music


the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive”.




The Man in the Wound

Quiet the ward, quiet the dressing-cart now,

quiet the morphine drip, blessed easer of pain—

turning his head as I pass, he says, Hi, Doc,

asks if I’m working too hard—I look beat—overstrained.

His wound came at Nasiriyah, and I was not there

to shield him from rounds and flame, being safe in the rear;

yet his thought is always of me, the nurse or the friend,

or even the enemy soldier he glimpses or hears.

With arms laid waste, he finds no reason to hate;

his comrades now are all who grieved and withstood:

just as the wound proclaims the hell all have made,

the man in the wound is raised—shown peaceful and good.