by Wendy Taylor Carlisle

I was a kid when we hit Mile-High suburbs, carcasses of Winnebagos
strung out behind us on the plains, the mile-long gas lines coming in view.

Doubt ate me like flowers. I’d seen the scalded girl, the jungle on fire.
I asked, what is there to fight for? What explains this warfare?

Shush, said Aunt Bet, you think you’re better than the VFWs?
Wait’ll you get grown.
What did I know then about old GIs

in semi-transparent shirts, dancing Saturday night away under
a tarnished mirror-ball? Let the Marines be good citizens, I answered,

I’d rather be naked. No uniform suits me. In Denver, I dreamed
of soldiers, dreamed of my gentle, demented mother driving into town in

a scrounged-up travel-trailer. Someone else’s predicate centered my paragraphs.
Someone else’s day made up my mystery. Adult answers didn’t satisfy

once I discovered grown-up was just another war
on a field I didn’t recognize, once I saw my skin was useless armor.

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 18, Issue 5.

Wendy Taylor Carlisle lives in the Ozark Mountains. Her two books are Reading Berryman to the Dog (Jacaranda Press, 2000) and Discount Fireworks (Jacaranda Press, 2008.) Read more about her work at

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