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This poem is taken from PN Review 112, Volume 23 Number 2, November - December 1996.

How Else? Val Warner

(Tom N. and Jack S.,June 1939)


1. His Coat

So now I've seen the future and it was
your old tweed coat hung lifeless on the peg,
another coat hung dapper on the peg.
So I'll throw out your shrouding coat, put on
the body of another man and feel

our universal pulse? Jack, Jack… Oh Jack,
that was another place, another time…
before the war. Again, we shall speak so?

I know so well that lived-in, threadbare coat,
that could be mine, slumping against the wall,
rinsed with our tears and semen, rain, sweet rain
- hung from the gallows, hooked on by my eyes.
My lily conscience nails you to the tree?
In Germany, I'd die more surely for
not fighting. You… Last time, some men came home
...


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