A Tonight's Lecture:
The Effects of Head Wounds
On Foot Soldiers,
A Case Study
Government scientists are experimenting with cats
to determine the effects of head wounds on foot soldiers. The cats
are strapped to special tables, their heads in a vise,
and shot with military assault rifles. The effects
are noticeable. Without their heads, the cats become dis
oriented, have trouble breathing, and no longer function fully as cats. The government scientists speculate
that head-wounded foot soldiers experience similar discomfort.

The cats are kept in cages for observation.
They lose their appetites and often become depressed,
reflecting post-traumatic stress syndrome as well.
The lecturer stops. The congressmen are incredulous,
shake their collective heads. War is hell! They'll
approve the development of better headgear for foot soldiers.

§     §     §

I must confess that I, too, like it:
the poem that's filled up flat and fast with condiments
on a sesame seed bun. Steamy, grease-spattered,
and juicy, fluent with salt, piping hot
from the grid, glazed with bubbling oil.
A poem you can count on always to be
the same --- small, domestic, fun for the whole
family. Economical. American. Free

of culinary pretension. I used to have to ride
ten miles or so out to the suburbs to find
one back in 1956 when poems were
more expensive, reserved for connoisseurs.
Now everyone is welcome to the griddle.
(I also like toads, and all this fiddle.)

--- From Long for This World
Ronald Wallace
©2003, University of
Pennsylvania Press
Go to
Other Poems
by Ronald Wallace


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