Maximilian Heinegg

Arlington by Lightning

we did not take our children to Washington   to see the dead just yet   
our plan to stand with Eleanor  in metal relief   to photograph waterfalls  
explain bread lines recite Martin   stand beneath the example  what a man 
who thinks heaven waits for him is willing to do  but soon we found 
ourselves descending   the Vietnam memorial   the underworld before us
then as swiftly   behind  each photograph a love left beneath the names  flowers 
rotting at the edge of stone the V above  our path taken up   to living trees  
that night we took a tour   that stopped at Lincoln & when the deluge hit   
we unrolled the plastic tour bus shroud   & a veteran tied it in place 
traded admired speech the guide decided Arlington  the gate still open   
began his tale of confidences   the Japanese thought Americans weak 
stomached   shot for maximum damage & Kuribayashi  tonight I hear 
of you   the 38 year old samurai  his emperor’s reluctant warrior
who’d lived among us   reverential   a reader of Shakespeare   a family man 
first   who told the women of Iwo Jima to wear pants to avoid rape   
sent away comfort women   steeled discord from the inside out   skin 
black peeling   at 122 F  they dug the tunnels   21,000 men   teenagers  
an island waiting to die             by lightning    the white   capped shadow’s
waves    small dominos   white fingertips honor gathered in the dusk 
of our  ignorance tidal swells of names thrown from the sea   cast 
about for eyes   cut in half   from the body’s temporal shore  he’d write 
to Taro & Yoko    before Tokyo burned   100,000 to ame for the last wave   
he stripped his uniform   of identification of all insignia  walking into 
the fire   all thoughts of heaven    the idea of ashat its best   a forgiveness

Maximilian Heinegg’s work has appeared in The Cortland ReviewTar River PoetryCrab Creek ReviewDecember Magazine, and The American Journal of Poetry, among others. He lives in Medford, MA, where he’s a high school English teacher at Medford High School.