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Gerald McCarthy


Winter Solstice 2004
(or The New War Dead)

A flock of starlings

scuttle on the rooftop

splashing in pools of rainwater.

The last leaves in the branches

of the red maple tree.

Look, my friend says

there’s a kind of dark

all around us,

you have to get used to it, s’all.

Bricker’s neighbor shot himself in his garage,

the summer I turned eleven.

He drove an old gray Plymouth,

a car with a single headlight like a beak.

Birdman of Church Street, we called him.

The car was pulled in when the shot went off.

A pistol, Tommy said, Smith & Wesson 38.

Once in winter I cut the yards,

saw him bent over his workbench-

the trouble light overhead,

cigarette smoke.

He saw my shadow and looked up.

Now December rain keeps falling

and the news slips out.

The dead come back.

A line of graying birds

huddled together in the rain.



278 War, Literature & the Arts




----------- And the young ones?

----------- In the coffins

---------------------------- -Miguel Hernandez


At night, invisible

aluminum boxes

slide down steel rollers

out of the belly of a plane.

Names from a new wall

count off a kind of cadence,

marking time

no one hears.

Trucks wait to upload

their cargo.

Shadows edge the airstrip,

a greasy rain begins to fall.




Gerald McCarthy’s recent poetry appears in Hawaii Pacific Review, The North American Review, Italian Americana and an on-line anthology, Enskyment. He has twice been a Visiting Artist at The American Academy in Rome, and his books include: War Story (1977), Shoetown (1992) and the forthcoming The Light Has No Tongue.


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