This Is a .50-Caliber Wound

By: Jeff Tigchelaar

Featured art: The Lonely Farm, Nantucket by George Inness

Knee surgery? Hell no
I didn’t have knee surgery.
That’s a .50-caliber wound.
I got bullet holes
up and down this leg.
Running through rice paddies.
                 Never mind that.
I need people to work. Know anybody?
People don’t want
to work no more. I need people
to throw hay. People can’t
throw hay no more.

Hundred-thirty-eight-pound bales, all day
out in the sun. It’s good work. If you’re strong. I pay
twelve-thirteen dollars an hour
so spread the word. The silt
in the air’s a bitch to deal with, though.
Especially if you’re not used to it. I’m used to it
and still it gives me fits. I got to cough
and puke it out and believe me, it takes a while.
                                   Purple Heart?
No. No I didn’t get one. It’s complicated. I wasn’t that
“good” a soldier, we’ll say.
Purple hearts are for . . .
Never mind. It’s just—it’s not worth it.
Never worth it. Especially today. Kids
come back fucked.
I’d never go. I’d stay,
work the family farm.
That’s where I am. Now.
I’ve got five brothers, four sisters,
and we keep about three guys full-time.
And my dad keeps timberwolves.
Gets ’em from a friend of his in Canada.
We got so many deer out there—we shoot
about ten a year for jerky. I only come into town
to donate plasma. I hate the city.
And I hate people, to be honest.
                 Know anybody
up for throwing hay, though—
send ’em my way.
I need people.


Jeff Tigchelaar’s poems have appeared in KestrelWest Wind ReviewThe Of- fending AdamHeavy Feather ReviewPleiadesLITThe Laurel ReviewCut- BankdecomPThe Wallace Stevens Journal, and Fugue, and in anthologies including Verse Daily and Best New Poets. His collection Certain Streets at an Uncertain Hour (Woodley Press) won the Kansas Authors Club’s 2016 Nelson Poetry Book Award. Tigchelaar lives in Huntington, West Virginia.

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