February 27, 2006
War Veteran Brian Turner Reads 'A Soldier's Arabic'
Brian Turner earned an MFA from the University of Oregon and lived abroad in South Korea for a year before serving for seven years in the US Army. He was an infantry team leader for a year in Iraq beginning November 2003, with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.
Prior to that, he was deployed to Bosnia- Herzegovina in 1999-2000 with the 10th Mountain Division.
His poetry has been published in Poetry Daily, The Georgia Review and other journals, and in the Voices in Wartime Anthology.
Turner teaches English at Fresno City College and does construction work on the side.
Here, Bullet by Brian Turner
If a body is what you want,
then here is bone and gristle and flesh.
Here is the clavicle-snapped wish,
the aorta's opened valves, the leap
thought makes at the synaptic gap.
Here is the adrenaline rush you crave,
that inexorable flight, that insane puncture
into heat and blood. And I dare you to finish
what you've started. Because here, Bullet,
here is where I complete the word you bring
hissing through the air, here is where I moan
the barrel's cold esophagus, triggering
my tongue's explosives for the rifling I have
inside of me, each twist of the round
spun deeper, because here, Bullet,
here is where the world ends, every time.
A Soldier's Arabic by Brian Turner
The word for love, habib, is written from right
to left, starting where we would end it
and ending where we might begin.
Where we would end a war
another might take as a beginning,
or as an echo of history, recited again.
Speak the word for death, maut,
and you will hear the cursives of the wind
driven into the veil of the unknown.
This is a language made of blood.
It is made of sand, and time.
To be spoken, it must be earned.
From Here, Bullet. Copyright 2005 by Brian Turner. Reprinted with the permission of Alice James Books.