Poet’s Corner Press

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Armory Square Hospital, 1863

by Joshua McKinney first published Tule Review Spring ‘01
Let the physician and the priest go home.
– Walt Whitman

The young men haunt his days and nights
within the whitewashed wards. At last a bliss
though terrible. To those outside he writes,
“…there is no time to lose, & death & anguish
dissipate ceremony here between my lads
and me.” Without the cloak of poetry,
he cures. He walks between the rows of beds,
his energy unchecked. At last he is free

to love. To give a gift, to dress a wound–
he feels the boys’ needs as his own. His advance,
that war, soon ended; the mended gone, he found
the quickening of death, the stiffened defensive stance
of the “good grey poet,” a man imprisoned
by the nation’s grudging embrace, its frozen optimism.

Category: Poems

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