Two Poems by Luke Mackinnon
The Second Fall
“Civil blood makes civil hands unclean.”
A line from the Prologue of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare.
A tilted head with frozen face:
Wide eyes, arched nose, gaped mouth — full of awe;
Chiseled features too heavy for the weary neck to bear
Where from cold skin the Adam’s apple rises.
Did Adam know when he ate the apple:
Civil blood too damned for any men’s amend, all because
Hissed, conceived, plucked was a marbled deception — imminently awful;
Ashamed heads bowed by them. Exeunt.
At what cost: Garden lost. Rifle shot.
The Battle of Antietam — 22,717 Casualties
September 17, 1862
Grounded before the formation of stars,
It stands glaringly against the dark woods
As a silver pinpoint in a rusted tunnel.
It beckons silently, persistently the brigaded
Boy, who left his boots among the
Unburied — blood cooling, flesh stretching; slaughtered manifest evidence.
His ribs cradle a bullet buried
Too deep in southern flesh for retrieval;
He will die with lead seed inwardly growing.
Fatal crawl to simple, humble abode;
Both him and it pierced with shrapnels:
His will heal in dust. The other broods
Permanence. Forever will it lavishly bear
Ruptures in nexus of forest and field.
Outside horses heavily pant, inside bugler’s last breath —
Blue eyes swaddle gray sky through breached roof
And hands clutch earth with its burgeoning glory.
Luke Mackinnon was born and raised in Texas. He recently received a BA in English Literature from Baylor University and is currently a graduate student at Dallas Theological Seminary, pursuing an MA degree in Christian Studies. He considers the South to be his home and cannot imagine living anywhere else where O’Connor, Faulkner and Percy are not household names. You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd. Read his previous poem in Deep South here.