Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2018  Vol. 17 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Operations Suite

I let myself believe
we had retired your desert

flight suit, shipped it, chastened,
back to 2006 when your plane

was a neon thundering that split
the tropopause


in two. Those first few
weeks without you, the baby’s

black eyes staring up
from the crook of my arm

while snow fell through
the elms. I too


am distrustful of any group
in lockstep—large

manipulations of starlings,
formations of them

on the parade
ground, reveille, reveille, and yet


if a plane is just a rib cage falling,
then a man is just a rib cage begging


over Kandahar. Your voice
tinny and small, ricocheting

off glinting satellites
back to me. In those days,

I could never drink so much
as a whiskey without trying

to replace myself entirely


with anotherkindof woman

onewho wouldn’twait


for you through thunder
that growled

from the margins of the woods
as I stood

ankle-deep in a flood,
the doves promising your return

like clockwork
back to the bougainvillea

each spring. You can


lie to me this time—say
you’ll stay. Hindu Kush

rising from the horizon
like rows of frozen teeth.  

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