The Military Application of this Poem

I wrote this poem maybe in the fall of 2005, one of the first poems in my one-bad-poem blitz (which lasted for five years!). I’ve sent it around to poetry journals for ages now and no one’s ever nibbled. 

If I remember right, in 2005-06 I took some time off from the college and volunteered a couple hours a week in Emma's first grade classroom. I was also active in PTA, and the PTA president liked to joke that if the military had to sell cookies to raise funds for weapons, they’d think twice about them. Another seed was something my husband said to me when I shared a poem with him. “Too bad there's not a military application for poems. Then you could make some money.”  

Looking at the poem now, I can see that it’s rather perverse. Sorry. 

The Military Application of this Poem

The military application of this poem 
is top secret. It falls like a bomb,

like twenty bombs, each bigger than the last. 
The military application

of this poem is sealed in a manila envelope,
catalog of every imaginable weapon.

This poem is a bayonet, a stealth plane,
a gas mask, a tank, a Humvee,

a grenade launcher, a grenade
that explodes in your hands.

The military application of this poem
must be protected at all costs. 

After reading it, tear it into 
the smallest possible scraps. Eat

the scraps. Like other poems,
this poem didn’t begin as a warrior, 

wanted nothing less. But here it is, 
irritable and hungry, demanding, 

Where is my funding?


                                    —Bethany Reid