Bruce Guernsey

The Wall

Someone has opened a giant map
and with the tips of our fingers,
each of us suddenly blind,
we track the black cold of this monument
for names we know
like finding a route home.

Lost here
this damp spring morning,
the cherries exploding like the fourth of July,
we wonder how many maps of Viet Nam
sold those years,
so many strange sounding places.

One of us holds a magnifying glass
to McCarroll, McMorris, McNabb,
small print in the polished stone,
the way a neighbor, say, in Neoga, Illinois,
might have done, late at night
searching that faraway land on his kitchen table,

hearing again the morning paper
thump against the front door,
that boy on his bike in the dark
grown and gone—what was his name,
that kid from down the block?

Khe Sanh, Da Nang, Hanoi.

Bruce Guernsey’s poems have appeared in The Atlantic, Poetry, and The American Scholar. Among his collections of poetry are January Thaw from University of Pittsburgh Press and From Rain: Poems 1970-2010 from Ecco Qua Press. He is a former editor of The Spoon River Poetry Review and the recipient of fellowships from the NEA, the McDowell Colony, and the Illinois Arts Council. Guernsey has been a Fulbright Senior Lecturer in American Poetry in Portugal and Greece. He has also twice sailed around the world as a faculty member with Semester at Sea.



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A CLOSER LOOK: George Bilgere

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