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Weekly Poem: ‘Reading Stephen Crane’s ‘War Is Kind’ to My Husband’

By Jehanne Dubrow

I packed your seabag
today: six pairs
of pants, shirts folded in
their rigid squares,

your socks balled up
like tan grenades.
I put my photo in
as well, laid

it there between
the Kevlar vest and heap
of clothes. Don’t weep,
the poet warns, don’t weep.

On 60 Minutes,
a soldier turns
his face toward us, shows
the camera his burns,

small metal slivers still
embedded in
the skin, his mouth a scrap
of ragged tin.

The young man’s face
was beautiful before,
smooth, unblemished as
my own. For war

is kind, I read. Great is
the battle-god
and great the auguries,
the firing squad,

the neon green of night
vision that cuts
the darkness open at
its seams, gutted

and spilling on the sand.
Great is the Glock,
the Aegis Weapons System,
the Blackhawk

circling. Great are the Ka-Bar
fighting knives,
the shells that sing through air,
as though alive.


Jehanne DubrowJehanne Dubrow is the author of three poetry collections: “The Hardship Post,” “From the Fever-World” and most recently “Stateside,” which is an exploration of the long history of military wives waiting for their husbands to return from war.

Dubrow, who is married to an officer in the U.S. Navy, is an assistant professor in creative writing and literature at Washington College.
Editor’s Note: You can read her previous Weekly Poems, ‘Against War Movies’ and ‘Nonessential Equipment.’

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