Mark Russell

Three Poems

Men More Comfortable in a Flat Back Four

About war, they say, there is nothing new to expect
from its aftermath. It is as common to come home
to a performance in both song and dance of long
narrative poems, as it is to come home to silence
and recrimination. It is the conduct of one’s heir in
your absence, and by equal turns, the number of
slaves one has been fortunate enough to retain in
order to make a new start in the business world,
that may govern which stories must be told with
honesty and faithfulness, and which must be total
fabrications. A man who returns from the war and
becomes a notable professor of history may be
disinclined to believe later revisions of a memoir
because of the suspicion that they have been sexed
up for reasons of political expediency, or because
of the suspicion that they may have been sexed up
for reasons of self-aggrandisement. Two men who
return from the war and become notable professors
of history may construct lucrative careers writing
popular television documentaries for the Discovery
Channel, or never write a single word about their


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