- Gun Oil
Soldiers gnawedthe ends of twigs to make brushes. What they sketchedwould be used to identify themwhen they were returnedto their families for ancestor worship. Gun oilas paint. The war-dead accruedon their papers. Roofs broken in with jacketed lead and herbicides, an expanseof fire. It was the endof an afternoon in 1970. The sun wrappedthe big spiky leaves in a cloth of gold.Soldiers tucked sketches into coffinsto get them back to the hometowns of the dead.My father was too young to die in that war,and his father was too old. [End Page 66]
Richie Hofmann is the author of a collection of poems, Second Empire (Alice James Books, 2015), winner of the Beatrice Hawley Award from Alice James Books. His poems have appeared recently in The New Yorker, Poetry, The New York Times Style Magazine, and The Baffler, and have been honored with the Poetry Foundation's Ruth Lilly Fellowship, the Pushcart Prize, and the Wallace Stegner Fellowship, among other prizes. He is currently Jones Lecturer in Poetry at Stanford University.