Brian Turner served in the U.S. Army in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iraq before receiving his MFA from the University of Oregon. Winner of the Beatrice Hawley Award for 2005, Here, Bullet is a remarkable twenty-first century collection of poems written during wartime. What makes Turner’s poetry so unusual and striking is his attention to language, his knowledge of Iraq’s history and its themes (which his poems become a part of), and his ability to let his poems just hang off the edge of their own cliffs.
“Sadiq” is one of the shorter poems in Here, Bullet, but it stands out to me in its raw power and directness. It’s a poem that begins almost at the end of a thought or an argument or a last breath. It is interesting to think about who the speaker is talking to in this poem, a particular “friend” or any reader who happens to be reading this poem at any given moment. Also, the use of “should” complicates these short lines in a number of ways.
It should make you shake and sweat,
nightmare you, strand you in a desert
of irrevocable desolation, the consequences
seared into the vein, no matter what adrenaline
feeds the muscle its courage, no matter
what god shines down on you, no matter
what crackling pain and anger
you carry in your fists, my friend,
it should break your heart to kill.