The Willing

by Karen Schubert

They don’t need
our war, the young
engineer complex schemes –
Rube Goldberg
machines of ladders
and rope. They
know the code
of their fathers’
gun case.
One by one
we send
balloons up
for them.
Gulping American
beer, they try
to cross
the highway
on foot, or kick
their way
to the other shore.
We collect them
from ditches
and eddies. We plant
trees for them,
leave Hot Wheels,
skateboards, yearbooks
by their stones.
We feel their cold
hands – on our children’s
birthdays we add
their names
to the cake.

Karen Schubert’s poetry and prose are forthcoming in Gently Read Literature, MUSE, Penguin Review, Artful Dodge and Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar 2012, and nominated for 2011 Best of the Web. Her chapbooks are Bring Down the Sky (Kattywompus, forthcoming) and The Geography of Lost Houses (Pudding House, 2008). She has an MFA from the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts, teaches writing at YSU and Mill Creek Park, and blogs at

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