For a while I too was haunted by

memories of your frightened faces

as we hovered nearby, shooting

warning tracers above your heads.

It was amazing—you thought waving

American flags would save you.


We had other rooftops to fly to.

Coming back from the last one

we saw the fire you had set as a beacon.

We couldnŐt help it.  We laughed.


The cries and curses you threw up

into that sky were instantly

drowned out and chopped up

by bladed arks already flying away.


I am among my own now, who do not

worship stones or rivers, or impute

to them a memory of any kind.

What does not perish here by forgetting

survives only in the occasional bad dream.


We wake up each morning to a new history.

We donŐt know if we remember.





We have become accustomed

to taking one to bed

like a nightmare

kept under the pillow

for just those times

persuasion must be fatal,

as we when we huddled

in fear and anger

threatening the

awaited intruder,

our mouths a ragged

ache of holes

against the familiar





(Walter Reed AMC)


Throughout the neon lit ward

braces thunder to music

no one can hear.

The wooden ribs of the floor

are splitting under the weight

of so much metal.


An attendant smiles and shouts,

ItŐs therapy!

He motions to a chair atop which

my friend is propped, his torso

swaying in time with the stumbling shapes

dancing on stumps.




The first lesson is as simple

as the looking glass.

A deception you read

from left to right.

Reflection tells you

who is being taken in.


Gradually youŐll recognize

every hoax by its face,

like the image you now confront

and the steel trap

that frames it.




© Mark Osaki


Bio:  His work has appeared in various journals and anthologies, including: The Georgia Review , Carrying the Darkness—The Poetry of the Vietnam War (Avon, Texas Tech University Press), South Carolina Review , Men of Our Time—An Anthology of Male Poetry in Contemporary America (University of Georgia Press), Breaking Silence—An Anthology of Contemporary Asian American Poets (Greenfield Review Press), Onset Review and Garrison KeillorŐs WriterŐs Almanac (National Public Radio).