The Shine Journal

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The Road to Baghdad


S. Brady Tucker


Is less a road than a floral
collection of spongy and soft
bodies, a gathering of the myriad

colors of nations—burnt umber,
puce, kilim red, olive drab, hot
steel.  It is a road that stretches

forever into the red mocha
of the horizon.  The road
to Baghdad has its own atmosphere

and sound, so unlike the roads
I have driven in the states—here,
the road is silent but for the pops

and spits of flame where trucks
clutch the bright and colorful
bodies of the unfortunate dead.

The road to Baghdad is like the aftermath
of a Fourth of July parade—streets
littered with the chaos of celebration,

where dyed paper and the bright
hulls of fireworks gather in the gutter.
Sometimes, I look for the road

to Baghdad in old maps or on
the internet, but I can never find
it—the distance of time has cleared

it from the record books, has erased
it from everywhere but my mind, and
from the mind of those soldiers who saw

it with me.  Today, I awake in the morning
with unexplained scratches on the bridge
of my nose, and I ask my empty room, where

has that road gone?  I understand that if there
is no road, then there is no me.  But if none
of this ever happened, how do I awaken

every morning to the sun burning my outline
into the wild asphalt of that beautiful highway? 

Bio: S. Brady Tucker received an MA in Creative Writing from Northern Arizona University in 1998, where he resurrected and worked as Poetry Editor for Thin Air magazine.  "I am slowly writing a bad novel, finishing a second poetry collection, and hoping to submit my dissertation for a doctoral degree in Literature at Florida State University.  All this!  And my cure for cancer, while disguised during the day as a pharmaceutical representative for an evil conglomerate!  I am originally from Wyoming, and served as an Army 82nd Airborne paratrooper in the Persian Gulf War.  My poetry and fiction is forthcoming or has appeared in the Antioch Review, Art Times, Indiana Review, Rosebud, North American Review, Witness, Rhino, Southern Poetry Review, Crab Orchard Review, among many others.  The Road to Baghdad appeared in The Bridport Prize Review."

Motivation: I write generally from the point of view of a "fictionalized experience."  Things from the news, from my experiences in the Persian Gulf, from my travels.


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Editor: Pamela Tyree Griffin

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