Nocturne with IED

Hugh Martin
Horizontal photo of rippling water.
Photo by David Angel

The pond beside the dump
            bubbles with blue froth;

milk cartons and black bags float
            like dead fish. A man’s head

pushes through, severs the surface
            of the water, red wires

pour like linguini from his mouth,
            the pockets on his vest

overflow with nails, screws.
            He crawls up

from the pond, a trail of black
            sewage saturating

the ground behind him. When he takes
            three steps—then stops—

leeches try to twist
            free from the patches

of beard on his neck
            and with both hands he pulls

the wires from his mouth
            like a rope from the back

of his throat. I see the silver fuse,
            its widening sphere, and from his

stomach—a beige mortar round
            he births through his teeth.

Hugh Martin is a veteran of the Iraq war and the author of The Stick Soldiers (BOA Editions, Ltd., 2013).  He is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow and will be the 2014-15 Emerging Writer Lecturer at Gettysburg College. Photo: Karen Schiely.