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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 4: July 2020
Poem: 274 words [R]
By Gary S. Rosin

Fields of Fire

Hunting, walking a volcanic valley. 
The ash and mud of eruptions past 
had turned to furrows, fields of corn 
awaiting the harvest, 
the clearing of the land. 

But the only fires that burned that day 
were the equatorial sun, 
and those that lurked inside 
as I trudged along the planted rows, 
dealing death with double barrels. 

My father and his friends 
hunted somewhere across the field, 
while I was on my own, 
with my gun and the heat, 
and a barefoot boy not quite my age, 
a native boy who walked behind 
to free the field of fire. 

The shooting was slow that day, 
with flurries of action—
a whirr of wing, a blast—
punctuating the tedium of dust and sun 
as we wandered among the stalks, 
smelling of burnt powder 
and trying not to think 
of thirst, or of how much afternoon 
still stretched ahead. 

Then a shower of random lead, 
pelting down, pattering on the corn. 
The pellets startled, stung, but 
drew no blood, instead ignited memories 
of tales my father told of 
fighting in Korean snow the winter I was born. 

A bullet straying from a battle 
struck my father in the leg, 
then fell, spent, harmless and disregarded, 
until later. 

The day before my father 
came home to see his wife, and meet 
his new-born son, he led a squad of sappers 
out to sweep a field, and stepped 
on the click of a mine. He stood 
stock-still, listened 
for the blast, but 
heard only the silence 
of a dud. 

Even now my father 
awakens with the click of the morning clock, 
and waits for the alarm. 


—Previously published in Houston Poetry Fest Anthology 1987, and as part of the “Vertigo” sequence in Standing Inside the Web (Bear House Publishing 1990); appears here with author’s permission

Gary S. Rosin’s
Issue 4, July 2020

poetry and haiga have appeared, or are forthcoming, in various literary and poetry magazines such as Concho River Review, Harbinger Asylum, KYSO Flash, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Poetry24, The Legal Studies Forum, and Visions International; as well as in several anthologies, including Faery Footprints (Fae Corp Publishing), Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku & Haiga (Dos Gatos Press), Texas Poetry Calendar (Kallisto Gaia Press), Untameable City: Poems on the Nature of Houston (Mutabilis Press), and elsewhere.

His poem “Viewing the Dead” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Two of his poems appear in Silent Waters, photographs by George Digalakis (Athens, 2017). He is the author of two chapbooks, Standing Inside the Web (Bear House Publishing, 1990) and Fire and Shadows (Legal Studies Forum, 2008) (offprint). Selections of Gary’s poetry and photography can be found on his website, 4P Creations: http://4pcreations.com

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