We’re delighted to feature in this issue on trauma a single poem by the award-winning poet Richard Siken, whose first collection of poems Crush is an obsessive exploration of the subject. “Detail of the Fire” will be included in Siken’s forthcoming collection War of Foxes. Siken describes the poem as “a sideways take on trauma: continued and engaged trauma, rather than hindsight.”
– Charif Shanahan, Poetry Editor
Detail of the Fire
A man with a bandage is in the middle of something.
Everyone understands this. Everyone wants a battlefield.
Red. And a little more red.
Accidents never happen when the room is empty.
Everyone understands this. Everyone needs a place.
People like to think war means something.
What can you learn from your opponent? More than you think.
Who will master this love? Love might be the wrong word.
Let’s admit, without apology, what we do to each other.
We know who our enemies are. We know.
Richard Siken’s poetry collection Crush won the 2004 Yale Series of Younger Poets prize, a Lambda Literary Award, the Thom Gunn Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His poems have appeared in The Iowa Review, Conjunctions, Indiana Review and Forklift, Ohio, as well as in the anthologies The Best American Poetry 2000 and Legitimate Dangers. He is a recipient of a Pushcart Prize, two Arizona Commission on the Arts grants, two Lannan Foundation residencies, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. His second book, War of the Foxes, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in 2015.