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An Anthology of Poetry about Being Young and Growing Up
Table Of Contents
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Bryan Alec Floyd

He was alive with death: Her name was Sung and she was six years old. By slightest mistake of degrees on an artillery azimuth, he had called for rockets and napalm. Their wild wizardry of firepower expired her mistake of a village, killing everyone except her, and napalm made her look like she was dead among the dead, she alone alive among their upturned corpses burning toward the sky. He and the platoon got to them too late, removing only her to a hospital inside his base, Da Nang. In the months that followed, when he could make it back from the boonies, he always went to visit Sung. Finally he was ordered to a desk job at the base. He visited her every day, though he accused himself of being alive and would stand in a slump, breathing his despair, before entering the children's ward. But he would enter. Sung, knowing it was him, would turn toward the sound of his feet, her own, seared beyond being feet, crisply trying to stand on shadows, cool but unseen. And as he would come in, Sung would hobble up to him in her therapeutic cart, smiling even when she did not smile, lipless, her chin melted to her chest that would never become breasts. He would stand and wait for her touch upon his hand with her burn-splayed fingers that came to lay a fire upon his flesh. Sung was alive and would live on despite life, but even now her skull seemed to be working its way through the thin, fragile solids of wasted, waxen skin. Her head was as bald as a bomb whose paint has peeled. She had no nose and her ears were gone. Her eyes had been removed, and because they were not there, they were there invisibly looking him through. Sung was child-happy that he came and cared, and when he would start to leave, she would agonize her words out of the hollow that was her mouth. Her tongue, bitten in two while she had burned, strafing his ears, saying, without mercy, I love you.


Bryan Alec Floyd

He came of a sharecrop farm family and could barely read and write. He had never thought about teaching his heart war. When he personally received a letter from the President of the United States of America he simply went, having faith. He put on his uniform and disappeared and became his uniform. When he came back in a box, he was buried with full military honors, his family given the flag that draped his coffin. Now that flag flies every day in front of his house. When the neighbors' children pass by they always look at that flag and they always say, "Someday there will be another war, and I'm going to be a Marine.

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