h o m e........
p a s t   i s s u e s....
s u b m i s s i o n s....
l i n k s

 

 

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MIKE ROLLIN


  C-130 HERCULES

 
Drags through the air like a thunderous grey cross.   Workhorse of the military industrial skies.  The fifty-ton fuselage is an aluminum alloy statement of tensile strength fusing the melancholy and mercenary contemplations of our green-hearted youth.  Rounded, riveted, airfoil smooth.  At cruising speed the wings pulse with vital energies, the thrust of 408 congressional votes for the use of military force and why do they hate us? Turboprop sidekick.  Henchman.  Comes and goes like a boomerang.  The cargo hold fills to 42,000 pounds of vehicles, munitions, souls.  Ninety-two webbed seats sway with coiled bowels and side-facing prayers.  The wonder of flight.  Once airborne, supported from everywhere—sheen of fear above, density of silence below.

 

 

*          *          *

 



  IN THE SECOND YEAR OF THE WARS

 
An Army Career Center opens on Lyndale a few doors down from the VFW.  The army a-waiting slips in one by one.  Changing into uniforms, changing bodies like shamans.  Flying this world to that.  In the display window, a video advertises the warrior’s way—a loop of simulated combat, fit young men in ARMY t-shirts sweating through an obstacle course, and scenes of civilian life.  Happy families blowing out candles on a birthday cake.  Static fizz for a second at the end of the loop.   Soldiers re-appear from the blur.  The army that will meet itself.  Here, by the screen’s blue flame, my life veers closeFlying into my body.  A feeling like falling down the stairs to find all the people I know gathered.  They shake their fists in rage or glee. 

 

*          *          *

 




  DRIVING TO THE GROCERY STORE MY SON ASKS, WHAT IS A STAR?

 
The sun there, at my back over the avenue, and in my mind, the impassive sheer disk burns, brilliant, godlike, the thing to never look directly upon, millions of miles masking arched filaments and flares, the roiling surface a rose window stretched, spun, shattered, a mountain of golden spiders crawling, tumbling, eating itself in, shitting itself out as incandescent eddy, as firegold bore-hole across the sky, as hot breath on my neck, glare in my eyes, brown of the bricks, black of the tires, the rise and fall of every nation rising and falling, the luminous shape of the devouring density that drags all matter—no stopping, no rest—to the fathomless dark core, the simplest of stuff gathered to its extreme and broken to its smallest measure to burn through all distance, all darkness, to set alight the silent flames that arc over our days and pinprick our nights, that we call star if it is distant and dim, and we call sun if it is near and touches us, these small names for the coiled glow that takes us in, finds us, fine on our skin, and pools deeper still, never done.

 

*          *          *

 




  IN ANOTHER SKY, THERE IS NOTHING ABOVE THE WARPLANES

 
Indolent chariots that chew the sky’s ten blues into obliterated highway.  An avenue of death where the army a-awaiting parades.  Their dappled desert camouflage swirls past, a simulacra sandstorm.  The salutes crackle like lightning.  The high-kicking legs fly up, detonated.  The tanks roll guttural, heavy enough to crush a school.  A missile preens on a trailer, raised up as grim steeple.  Look here, the senators and their favorite generals come in storybook coaches, leaning out the bedecked windows like drunks leering from the bar. Through the clownings of nostalgic victory-to-be dances the flame-faced unknown soldier waves from his tomb like homecoming royalty.  And who are these children following behind, costumed as for a summer picnic with daisy chains and crisp white shirts?  With bits in their mouths, they pull a C-130 like a plow, tearing the pavement into glossy black streamers.

 

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BIO: Mike Rollin received a MFA from the University of Minnesota and has worked as an interpreter, community organizer, and writing instructor.  His poems have appeared in Water~Stone, Redivider, Northwest Review, Commons Magazine, on the air at KAXE radio, and elsewhere.  He lives in Minneapolis. 





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