We glibly say, I’ve lost my mind, but few
Have really seen it go. Me, I was ten.
I couldn’t tell concrete from quicksand when
A cavalry of stallions ran me through.
Those hooves thundered me apart. I’ve learned
No safety lies in legions, and alone,
Ambushed at dawn, I’ve stumbled out, took hold
Of earth and prayed for gravity’s return.
My life seems soft to those who’ve traversed hell.
My Uncle Merle breathed poison overseas,
Trapped in the muddy trench of World War One.
What war stories does someone like me tell?
I know those soldiers saw their enemies.
I combat chimeras. We each have our Verdun.
JANNA KNITTEL is the author of Real Work (Nodin, 2022), a finalist for the 2023 Minnesota Book Award in poetry. Janna has also published a chapbook, Fish & Wild Life, and poems in Blueline, Breakwater Review, Constellations, Cottonwood, North Dakota Quarterly, Pleiades, The Wild Word, Waters Deep: A Great Lakes Anthology, and The Experiment Will Not Be Bound.