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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 5: October 2020
Prose Poem: 261 words
By Suzanne S. Rancourt

we wanted the war to be over


I come with my clarinet and AK slung over my left shoulder, because, my clarinet reminds me of humanity like that wedding dance I played at Berde’s, who is now screaming orders, smoking a cigarette, and battle stressed. Young men commanding causes. All I wanted was a note or two of somewhere else back home, tortillas, warm grilled, and slow cooked chicken after a long workday in plantations. America provides weapons, clarinets, and jazz. This reeded escape squawks breath. So easily we could have been picked off by snipers in overwatch from distant rooftops. All I wanted was to bring our minds back, one fragment at a time. It was time to be finished and go home to farming. But Berde kept fighting. Even now, every night—he’s still fighting, still in it. The tension in his flesh across the bridge of his nose and cheekbones remains tight with direction and fear that the war might be over. Or perhaps, he recognizes his own opus, his own measure of distinctness, the frenetic punctuation a bullet—seconds into scores—repeats his battles, his skirmishes—something to die for or a song to honor innocence sacrificed. I wanted to play that clarinet and grip that beauty of soft sounds clicking chrome keys, muffled by the cork pads’ pressed hush. This melody swirls a history of love, love of war, love of country, your land, your wife, mother, father, brother, sister. This melody is this breath, one whole note, we wanted to end what would never end.

Suzanne S. Rancourt
Issue 5, October 2020

is a multimodal artist of Abenaki/Huron descent, an expressive arts therapist, and the author of two books: Billboard in the Clouds (Northwestern University Press, 2004), which received the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas First Book Award, and murmurs at the gate (Unsolicited Press, 2019). A third book, Old Stones, New Roads, is forthcoming Spring 2021 from Main Street Rag Book Publishers; and her fourth, Songs of Archilochus, seeks a press. A veteran of the USMC and the US Army, Suzanne holds an MS degree in psychology (SUNY) and an MFA in writing (Vermont College of Fine Arts).

For a comprehensive list of her publications, please see her website: https://www.expressive-arts.com/Artists--Page.html

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