Laurence Carr

Saigon Cinnamon

sits innocently enough
         on the grocery shelf
         between the cardamon
         and cumin

bought without a second thought
         and ready for
         holiday baking

the rich brown bark
         peeled from trunks
         once deflowered from
         Agent Orange’s
         secret visits
         fertilized with
         blood and bone meal
         from half a world away

the label should read
         Ho Chi Mihn City cinnamon
a more complex meter
         but too many syllables
for a sexy brand that rolls off the tongue

         so we buy our Saigon cinnamon
a name whose metaphor and meaning
         are lost on those who weren’t witness

and the spice cakes and cookies
         will be served with grace
         with not a hint of aftertaste

a hundred iridescents

cut to the bone
         the brittle heart mourns

it’s missed the last train
         and will have to spend the night
on the wooden pew
         in the station waiting room
with no creature comforts

not even a weak coffee
         or a dog-eared Redbook

the stationmaster’s gone home
         to a warm bed,

and is this the day the clocks
         turn back time
to behold false youth in the pitted
         restroom mirror

flickering fluorescents
         the syncopated heartbeats
         of a generation
left in the lost and found box

with the unspoken umbrellas and
         a blind man’s deadly night shades

Ferguson, Afghanistan
Baltimore, Afganistan
Charleston, Afganistan
Chicago, Afganistan
San Bernadino, Afganistan
Charlotte, Afganistan
Tulsa, Afganistan

We’re American snipers, one and all

         in circled lockstep,
         with fear
         our rally point.

We steady our aim, we point and shoot
         as if we’re taking graduation photos.

We immerse in quickdraw shootouts
         on deserted highnoon streets.
         An all American epic.

We weave threads of fear into our flag
         and play out our misled past as present
         in bleeding comicbook colors.

We waver on everything but a trigger pull.
The only decision we agree on.

With the last page always on the drawing board
         in a country of sequels
         our never ending story.

About the Author

Laurence Carr (Vaudeville) has had plays produced throughout the U.S and Europe, including The Wakeville Stories, 36 Exposures, and The Voyage of Mary C.. His Off-Broadway play, Kennedy at Colonus, was cited in the Burns Mantle Best Plays Series. His novel, Pancake Hollow Primer, (Codhill Press), won the Next Generation Indie Book Award in 2013, and his poetry appears in numerous publications. He teaches dramatic and creative writing at SUNY New Paltz. Website:

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