Claudia Gary

This Just In

On a rooftop with a microphone
in a country we will never own,
she stands above the battle's drone.

Her long hair matted, pinkies out,
the war reporter speaks in a shout
revealing just the slightest doubt

that she, or we, should hover there.
Arrhythmic bomb blast, throbbing flare
behind her: She is standing where?

Hibernating with a Jigsaw Puzzle

With conscious daily order sent to bed,
I group these little cardboard swivel-slices
together by their color, texture, contrast:
despair beside despair, hope beside hope,
a president's betrayal alongside
a husband's, floods and hurricanes with earthquakes,
Israel beside that other hottest spot
of 1967, Vietnam;
Vietnam sidled up next to Iraq;
the steaming eyes of hatred joined to those
of lust. How can I know these jagged pieces
are not mismatched, even with opposites?
Each marriage of convenience overlooks
a few tiny details: a "w"
appended to the word "no" makes it "now":
"There is now peace." No doublethink is needed
when conscious daily order is asleep.

Let's Get Out of Here

Except it isn't just some stupid party,
some scene you can forget, undo, ignore:
I'll name a hundred reasons, if you start me,
for why "we should stop orbiting that war."
The 1960s, '70s, long over,
refuse to let you go without a fight--
another one! Continuing to hover
they've captivated you by day and night,
by studied dream and nightmare, in a pool
of poison, remedy, truth, fable, lie.
They won't stay at the office or at school.
You are indebted to them as am I,
this wise and foolish creature you've befriended
who'll need to keep reminding you they've ended.


Nobody claimed that God would understand.
They only promised He would look away
while we went killing for our fatherland.

As war's apologists spoke on command--
chaplain, priest, rabbi--they gave their okay,
but no one claimed that God would understand

words from the lips or bullets from the hand
of a changeling, who counted down each day
while he went killing for his fatherland

or even while he slept, nested in sand
or jungle brush. Besides, how could we pray
knowing that God would fail to understand?

Our memories arrive as contraband
smuggled in dreams, then slither out and stay.
We cannot kill them for our fatherland.

Life hasn't taken us where we had planned.
There are some messages we would relay
if only God would try to understand
why we went killing for our fatherland.


Claudia Gary (formerly Claudia Gary-Annis) writes, edits, and composes (tonally) in the Washington, D.C. area. Her first full-length poetry collection, Humor Me, was published in 2006 by David Robert Books, and a second collection is in progress, along with her work as a licensee to the literary estate of the poet Richard Moore. Her articles on veterans' health and other topics have appeared in Vietnam Magazine, VFW, and The VVA Veteran. For more information and links to some of her published poems, see claudiagary.com.


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Claudia Gary
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> A panel on The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline has been accepted at this year's Southern Women Writers Conference.
Rhea Nowak: I am always intrigued by the relationships between clarity and chaos, rhythm and awkwardness, mark and intention, presence and absence.
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