WHY: 3 A.M.

 

When you love a Marine, you must love
the world — the sun-streaked Ohioan
riding a baler; the Utahan stalled out

on Route 80’s shoulder; the North Dakotan
lighting a joint in his mother’s basement.
The Kansan florist specializing

in funeral arrangements. Love them.
And that guy at the truck stop 
ordering chicken, face the color of

a too-common equation: beer plus boat
minus the good sense god gave him. 
On his t-shirt, George Washington

aiming an AK-47. And the woman
taking his order, lips outlined orange,
eyebrows plucked stern, right forearm 

kissed pink by cigarette burns—
Love them. But don’t stop, go further —
goldsmiths in Jakarta, coffee pickers

in Sumatra. Chinese honey smugglers.
Teenage Thai jugglers. And the boy
not yet seven in Kabul, caring for

what’s left of his father. Everyone —
the smokers, the ballers, the tweakers,
the jokers. Buckers and fallers. Poppy

growers. You must love the whole
world hard — bee for the nest —
to make your own love 

make sense. And those nights you
can’t — 

               I was beside myself, 

twin tinder-bone wrens conjoined
at the breast. One of a mind 
to peck the eyes from its head —

the other deaf to everything
outside of what was improvised
and duct-taped in the chest.

Thanks to the editors of Hubbub, Lisa Steinman and Jim Shugrue, for including “Why: 3 a.m.” in Volume 30 (2015).