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Since it is my goal to share the best war art I’ve found, I would like to share my favorite poem from Brian Turner’s poetry collection Here, Bullet (Here is my review from last week). It is deceptively short, but powerful. (Thanks to Alice James Books and Brian Turner for reprint permission.)


by Brian Turner


“It is a condition of wisdom in the archer to be patient because when the arrow leaves the bow, it returns no more.” - Sa’di


It should make you shake and sweat,

nightmare you, strand you in a desert

of irrevocable desolation, the consequences

seared into the vein, no matter what adrenaline

feeds the muscle its courage, no matter

what god shines down on you, no matter

what crackling pain and anger

you carry in your fists, my friend,

it should break your heart to kill.

It is essentially a moral poem, a meditation on how you should feel when you kill (“should” being the operative word). This is the only piece of post-9/11 literature, verse or prose, that deals with this complex emotion this idealistically and realistically. Regret, sadness, anger--all of it is here.

And, as Michael C asked, who is Sadiq? According to this website, it means friend in Arabic. Is sadiq a friend? Or is the the man someone killed? Every detail of this poem, from the title to the lower-cased “god”, is perfect.

One comment

It’s haunting. Like with one of the soldiers from Restrepo who had nightmares so often that he would rather take sleeping pills and not dream rather than risk see those images again.