Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By: Ammanda Selethia Moore


The Marines killed my brother:

my twin, my double,
who whispered his fears to me at night,
the other half of my heart,
whose laugh and bright eyes
I loved.

He died
after bootcamp
before deployment.

In his place
they sent a husk,
flayed out, tattered, charred.

Many times,
too many times,
that soulless shell
harbored cruelties.

Many times this corpse came to me softly,
(almost like my brother would!)
and I searched
those hollow eyes
for love.

The last time,
I found torture in its eyes.
Calloused hands clasped my throat,
saliva pooled in my mouth.
I clawed at its chest
and pushed away. 



I knew you were damaged
(and I gripped the taser to punish you)
when you blamed the dog
for the open puncture wounds
in her throat,
callous to the innocent’s pain. 



He professes to me and everyone who will listen that he walks the straight and narrow, a road so open and bright compared to the electric fence and armed-guard towers along the roads he used to walk.

I bet he rests as peacefully as his daughter, listening to the gentle breath of my aunt, not the steel’s clang or locks grating as he’s closed in.

Sometimes I wonder what he dreams of. (Certainly not his sins.) They’ve been expunged from the record but not my memory.

I remember a different prison. His hugs confined me. On those long visits, he lingered until the guards noticed.

And then, immediate stillness, his breath buzzed against my neck, “You’re the kind of woman I want.”

In the night, I think every man is him. Even the rasp of his voice caresses me now, and I feel the pressure of his hands in my dreams. 


Ammanda Selethia Moore is a non-binary poet and writer who also teaches English at Norco College. Their poetry has been published in DASH Literary Journal.

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