Brian Turner earned a master of fine arts in poetry from the University of Oregon before serving for seven years in the U.S. Army. He deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina with the 10th Mountain Division in 1999–2000 and then spent a year in Iraq as a team leader with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 2nd Infantry Division. This poem, which he wrote while in Iraq, originally appeared in Here, Bullet (Alice James Books, 2005).
If a body is what you want,
then here is bone and gristle and flesh.
Here is the clavicle-snapped wish,
the aorta’s opened valves, the leap
thought makes at the synaptic gap.
Here is the adrenaline rush you crave,
that inexorable flight, that insane puncture
into heat and blood. And I dare you to finish
what you’ve started. Because here, Bullet,
here is where I complete the word you bring
hissing through the air, here is where I moan
the barrel’s cold esophagus, triggering
my tongue’s explosives for the rifling I have
inside of me, each twist of the round
spun deeper, because here, Bullet,
Here is where the world ends, every time.
Copyright 2005 © by Brian Turner. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company Inc. on behalf of Alice James Books (www.alicejamesbooks.org).
This article appears in the Autumn 2018 issue (Vol. 31, No. 1) of MHQ—The Quarterly Journal of Military History with the headline: Here, Bullet