Graham Barnhart

             First: HE rounds 

their kicked-up smoke dust 
same color as whatever earth they strike.  

Nothing seen we know them 
by bellows thumping bare hills  

beyond the bombed-out tank hulks 
we were supposed to hit.  

A thunder you can set your watch to.   

             Next: illume rounds 

packed light and smoke 
and shot too low  

start fires in the tall grass.  
Imagine these man-made stars washing  

night like photograph half developed.
In daylight, just ash dragging fields 

that aren’t allowed to burn.   

             Of course: over there  

if the wheat crops, or the poppy 
harvest go to roast, we won’t  

wait for the fires to die out safely.  
We can leave as soon we start them. 

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.