The War Makes Everyone Lonely

Graham Barnhart

My sister’s been receiving a lot of calls 

from strangers. This is how she learns 

her number is listed on an escort site.  

Normally she talks about her fiancé, her dog,

what they think I must not want—really, to hear.

Now these guys keep calling, asking for Elisha.

And I’m sitting there, in Afghanistan, 

in a little plywood room painted red 

hung with pictures of the other guys’ wives.

I can hear a wind in ribbons through the concertina.

and Allen’s boots on the roof 

as he brushes snow off the dish,

and two privates debating the odds of an attack 

since it’s already two a.m. and cold as shit, 

and my sister is wondering if maybe she needs a lawyer,

and I’m thinking: What about Elisha?  

She must be home, I imagine, counting hits 

against the number of times the phone hasn’t rung. 

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.