For my bacterial sinusitis
Such gumption arrives noisy—
these sinuses, notions of territory
hoisted and collapsing with tiny reports
of musket fire hammering night sky,
zeroes crowding with war clouds,
with a vision, a new world.
Who creeps, who reconnoiters,
icily mapping the country I am
subject to, estuaries of cilia
freezing as they wend, they bound.
I am trailing them, nightmaring them
as they fence, settle and unsettle.
Enterprise in my temple, pain building
to a harvest as rich as the gauds
of worry I prepare mornings
into witchery of Flonase, uttanasana,
of eucalyptus, turmeric, melaleuca,
of azithromycin, manuka honey.
My belligerence enflames us, as survival
makes anyone ridiculous. Who more?
The doom hallucinator wearing a couch
or the manifest destined on deathbeds?
It’s hard to see, though we have shared
my dinner’s pale scent for weeks,
my whirling inhale a horrible prayer
of leaves clawing their bulwarks. Infection—
a word gnashing in exhale. Infection—
a spell that continues to fail, conjures
the voice of Winston Churchill
to my antibodies: we shall fight them
on the beaches, in the fields and valleys…
My Vicksburg swelling in righteous death,
loaded days, weeks of battle dreams, my pain
holding a flare to the violence that was
always there, inscribed on illuminated flesh
against my awareness, a rival colony
outliving, finally, the morning of grim quiet
save a few shots from Mathew Brady,
the deserted ramparts still smoldering
into clearest night beside a tree’s
message someone’s knife-blade ventured,
persisting to read: you are invited.
Kevin Riel’s poems have recently appeared in the Iowa Review, Prelude, and Beloit Poetry Journal. He is a PhD candidate at Claremont Graduate University where he is also Editor-in-chief of Foothill: a journal of poetry.