Certificates of Training

Graham Barnhart

After misspellings and formatting errors
only half the certificates ended up
on good card stock, scrawled with vineyard
rows of Pashtu: military rank, and names
and fathers’ names.

                                     But after the ceremony,
photographs, and handshakes and hands
held to the heart, and blessings
they only asked if I would please
make new diplomas in English.
English, they said, is official.
The Pashtu lovely, but no one believes it.

Graham Barnhart served as a Special Forces medic in Iraq and Afghanistan and is currently pursuing an MFA at Ohio State University. His work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Beloit Poetry JournalThe Gettysburg ReviewGulf CoastThe Sewanee Review, and others. He was recently named the recipient of the 2015 Chad Walsh Poetry Prize from the Beloit Poetry Journal.