Kevin Riel

Lost Colony

For my bacterial sinusitis
(January-April 2015)

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.

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