Max Heinegg

Proving Ground

The pillow’s no shelter, my fellow soldier
rouses me with coffee’s reveille, lifts the Roman
shades to show the world’s fugazi, has no pity
for drivers who knife the rotary, sniped doing 40
by the deadeyed. We dread, but honor

our dark alarms, march to sign agendas
in authoritative ink. She pulls Lincolns
from her purse’s war-chest, pins the oranges
with cloves, decides the fate of our basement
mouse, enlists with chicken the rustling animals

hidden in our bee balm. She dubs the groundhog
Shithead, I debate the purchase of a shotgun.
On furlough, she fills baths with Epsom salts,
coordinates the colors of red-letter days; I hand
over our girl’s homework on the porch’s quay.

Afternoons, our company’s one klick away.
From studio windows, see our kid limber up;
at the library, the young tutor turns her scope.
We depend on this defense & pay for it.
By day, we train the next wave, relieve each other’s

watch, see damage unravel with experience
that knows how battles would play out,
if the field was level. Frightened, we invent
pretexts to ambush competitive houses.
Reinforcements are not on the way.

Max Heinegg is a high school English teacher who lives in Medford, MA. His poems have appeared in The Cortland Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Thrush, Nimrod, and Glass (Poets Resist). He is also a singer-songwriter whose records can be heard at



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