The War Room Scrubbed Clean of Blood


by X

The President folds

and unfolds Aleppo.

He has made a decision.

The leaves on Eucalyptus trees, too,

curl and uncurl

hurling thoughts back and forth

through time.

The President is a marvelous father.

The Oval Office walls are not blood-orange

except at sunset. The bodies have no visible wounds.

The smell of straw

mattresses is sealed in a vial and slotted

into history.  The snipers sleep bootless huddled

in the hallways, their dreams leaking out their ears.


The President knows better than to know.

When the President eats he does not look up, anymore.

The President instructs his inner circle not to use the word “unleash.”

He wonders if sparrows remember their fathers, their mothers,

or have a sense of vertigo.

Sometimes he feels a grief so pure it holds

his day in order.


Above the paper map laid out upon the war room desk

smoke rises in narrow, wobbly strings, staining walls.

Yes it’s true:

a black cat has found its way into the White House

halls, streaking every path with misfortune.

A verbal “okay” to plans so secret they exist

only in the full-throated commands voiced face-to-face.


We can say the sparrows do not remember their mothers.

We can say the day will come when this fact

will introduce great disorder into the President’s mind

causing his hand to waver over the map, over Homs, the curling

smoke filtering up between his fingers, his thoughts also rising

and then crashing themselves into the enemy nests.

We can say the President has seen into the dark

heart of the lake, the whiskered fish pushing

themselves deeper, deeper, beyond the point of human