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poetry For Those I Love, I Will Sacrifice

Tennessee poet Ben Weakly sings of a soldier’s valor as sacrifice for the living.

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For Those I Love, I Will Sacrifice

By Ben Weakley


Pried loose from the rock that bound him to earth,

six thousand feet above the sea, he was pulled

from red-tracer dreams of love and womb.


Tonight, when there is nothing left

but darkness and breath,

let him sing.


Stay. He will sing for you of his memory made viscous

by the years. He will sing of his valley, where ghosts

disappeared into mountain haze.


Here, where we cannot look away, let him sing.

Hear the song of ball bearings and fertilizer,

batteries and copper wire.


Let him sing. Hear him until you know heat and pressure.

Hear him until you feel blast wave

and ruptured lung.


Listen. He will sing of the golden hour,

songs of pale skin and translucent bag.

Tourniquet and rotor wash.


Let him sing. Hear the desperate music of splint and bone, hovering

over the valley floor.


Let him sing to you of what he left in the mountains

so that, once, you can bear the weight of his body

armor. You, too, can hold the souls he carried.


Let him sing of sunken eyes and rusted rifles.


Let him sing of dark rooms and phantom limbs.

Faces he sees in broken mirrors. Ghosts

he does not recognize. Ghosts that look like his friends.


Let him sing what it is to touch their faces in his dreams,

so that you, too, can wake twisted in sweat-soaked sheets.


Let him sing so that we may feel

his voice, because we must feel his voice.

Not as wind. Not as the moment

of breath against our skin, but in the ritual ache

of our memory, where he belongs forever.



Ben Weakley spent 14 years in the U.S. Army. He works and writes in Northeast Tennessee, where he lives with his family. His work appears and is forthcoming in Ekphrastic Review and Modern Haiku. His work has been awarded first place in the Heroes' Voices National Poetry Contest.