Skip to main content

Winter/Spring 2020

The Mind's Manassas

James Wyshynski


Hand painted, and insane in detail, the infantry
with scabbards, bandoliers, canteens, rifles;

the officers, in their brimmed hats, brandishing
officer swords as they sit astride the horses on brown

plastic saddles, reins, threads of plastic twisted
in the left hand of Union and right for Confederacy.

The field guns elevate with small metal wheel
and the limber carriages, four horses, pulling

a wagon have green bases with tiny wheels on them.
I picture a man in Wheeler or Knoxville, mid-fifties,

twice divorced sitting at a Ping-Pong table,
armies deployed, sharpshooters nestled

in their plastic trees, artillery unlimbered,
tucked in their Us of plastic sandbags, barrels sighted.

Behind the lines, the field hospital, with its cots
dabbed in red paint and caught in no man’s land,

a wounded Confederate, sprawled on his back,
his cap strewn by his head. He’s always looking up

at the bulb of the sun, one hand to his chest,
the other grasping at the earth.


[Check out James Wyshynski's back porch interview]