“Patient Minds” by Jonathan Korns

For Wilfred Owen

My mind has become a mortuary,
tortured by the sword
I’ve carried back and
forth to battle.

Wars are scary.
But words are scarce;
the only ones
I recall
are small
and sharp.

I charge through speech
ambush my listeners:
every “sort of,” a sword wound,
every “maybe,” a murder
with empty words
I construct full-of-shit
statements of no interest
to anyone
because I have to
keep talking
or I’ll remember
what happened.

But the people around me
know where I have been.
They read me psalms,
wash blood from my palms.

And they listen,
even though I know
they want to die, too,
every time I open my mouth.

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