to forget and remember

Soldier by soldier, they died, in this war
or that, on a bright or cloudy day, in rain —
with each vanished the memories of a man:
parents, children, love… but in singular:
his family; the sun on your face; the soar
of a bird in my sky above… such plain
joys and pains that even a civilian
can value (that squat distant neighbor).
At home, in the future that doesn’t contain
him, you or I must (too often) remember
the sacrifice: the thick flesh, alive, can
do little else but forget, till a blurred sun
explodes on the window of the car,
or our child waves a cheap plastic gun.



Written on the snow:
hunger of the running deer
whose wide ragged leaps

clustered into crisp
two-toed imprints as it stopped
last night by this shrub.

It must have eaten
well in the silvering light,
for it wandered on

slowly, with the soft
explosion of each hot breath
rising, vanishing.

Today, snowblowers
roar, and plows scrape at asphalt
and the sunlight blares.


what doesn’t matter to the day

The flies dance on the lion’s fur

with the softest roar. The nest is death.
The Serengeti trembles with heat.
The cup of a single sky can hold
all that you need to be, to breed.
A drama like grass or sand, common,
a note among so many songs
on another day before a night,
and all that’s past, and all to come,
settling everywhere, buzzing and bright,
Mother Corruption giving birth

again, a shiver from here to there,
from now to then. What is it
that changes life to life? That moves
beginning out of end? And what,
before an end could be, could be

there to begin, to shape a fly?
The maggot-house is being built
with all the beauty life can hold.

© JBMulligan

JBMulligan has had poems and stories in several hundred magazines over the past 35 years, has published two chapbooks, The Stations of the Cross and THIS WAY TO THE EGRESS, and an e-book, The City Of Now And Then. He has appeared in several anthologies, including Inside/Out: A Gathering Of Poets, The Irreal Reader (Cafe Irreal), and multiple volumes of Reflections on a Blue Planet.

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1 thought on “JBMulligan”

  1. I think poems cld b much shorter

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