HomeSouthern VoiceThe Liquor of War

The Liquor of War

by Mike Harrell

“Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.” – last words of Stonewall Jackson

You go on ahead, General.
The river is swift and I’m unsure
of those shadows. I’d like to lay down
my arms but I’ve developed a taste
for the liquor of war,
the encouragement of brass,
the indisputable authority of powder.
Stonewall JacksonHow can I describe the light
without referring to the darkness?
Even in the trees the whispering was with me.
Honor like a fever that strains the eyes
until all is out of proportion–the deer
swollen in the creek more disturbing
than the deaths of a thousand men. Or you
now, General, in water up to your knees,
stumbling on cobble as you work your way
through the flow, towards an ease of cedars,
the small sliver of shade that will be your delivery.

Mike Harrell lives in Richmond, Virginia and makes his living in the film industry as a props person. He is a graduate of the University of Florida, where he received a degree in English. He has been published in IthicaLit, The Centrifugal Eye, Clapboard House, Soundzine, Barnwood Magazine and The Alligator.

Not Our Kind of Folk
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  • sherry o'keefe / April 26, 2013

    such a fine poem, wisdom slanting through every line. the contrary elements in life deepen in contrast as we contemplate “the authority of powder.” brilliant, mike. truly.

  • Melinda Skinner / April 26, 2013

    Each time I read it, I see something more. “Honor like a fever that strains the eyes
    until all is out of proportion.” Wonderful.