Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
—what the fuck?
Foxtrot the Navy, I yell into the phone,
the first time that my husband groans deployed,
a word we’ve waited for since war began
four years ago.
[Let whiskey slide as slow
as bullets down my throat. Let foxtrot be
both verb and noun.]
Foxtrot the Navy,
I say again but softer than before,
as if the whisper of a dance could keep
[I need a shot of whiskey just
to take the news, a song in 2/4 time
and rhinestone shoes.]
Foxtrot, I sigh—
third time’s the charm in everything but war,
oh ugly, big sublime. I’m buzzing with
[Call in the dancing girls,
the boys who swallow slugs from Jerry cans,
moonshine sloshed to the brim of each canteen.
Let whiskey taste toxic as benzene.]
Previously published by If. Excerpted from Stateside, Northwestern University Press, 2010