Maybe it’s because I returned from that

ruinless war victorious by

surrendering, having given over

to myself as some do to God,

conquistadora of mind and pain so

that the day was mine, as the blood I shed,

gushing freely down my thighs onto the

bed, as the child delivered to us by

assiduous suffering. Remember,

in those Sisyphean hours, how nearly

her dark head crowned again and again, and

then slipped back behind the lip of labor’s

end, ‘til the midwives suggested mildly

that we should perhaps go, but I said no,

and you took me at my word. I was in

between places, at once within and with-

out, arms outstretched as I stood, legs apart,

touching one wall and the other, possessed.

When our bodies parted, it was without

violence. She slid from me like a sloop

on the crest of that final mighty wave,

the surge sucking her backwards before

spilling over, like breath, like confession,

her arms reaching forward towards the dry

open shore and mine reaching down between

my legs to receive, meeting her, round bright

bud of us combined, her astonishing

glaucous eyes staring steadily,

curiously, seeming to see. It’s because

of this, I think, that later we became

so hungry for each other even with

the bleeding and leaking, I was shining

in your eyes like a fairy queen, and I

too was changed, so that when I came that first

time after the birth, the hot pink lily

that was left and buried in the dirt

unfurled as we fucked, such hunger, such thirst.

Our hips bucked, and the confetti from your

cock burst, a shower, a tickertape parade

celebrating inside, discreetly crying

out victory, rising so high above

you and me and everything we knew.

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WENDY CHIN-TANNER is the author of Turn (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2014), which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Awards, and co-author of American Terrorist (A Wave Blue World). Her poetry has been nominated for The Best of the Net Prize and the Pushcart Prize, and has been published at The Rumpus, Vinyl Poetry, Denver Quarterly, The Huffington Post, RHINO Poetry, The Normal School, The Mays Anthology of Oxford and Cambridge, and elsewhere. She is a founding editor at Kin Poetry Journal, poetry editor at The Nervous Breakdown, staff interviewer at Lantern Review, and co-founder of A Wave Blue World.

4 responses to “Veteran”

  1. Uche Ogbuji says:

    Just stunning work. A pulsating poem. Confetti writ into the rhythm expressing so much of the complexity of such, ahem, seminal days 🙂

  2. Jessica Blau says:

    Wow. Intense. And, yes, stunning.

  3. Rashida says:

    The poem progressed beautifully and unexpectedly turned toward a more sensual nature. It was surprising and pleasing to find. Great work!

  4. John Foy says:

    Wendy, you’ve spoken about Whitman celebrating his body, but here you’ve done something equally good, if not better.


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