Katie Ford

The Lord Is a Man of War | Far Desert Region | The Day-Shift Sleeps, | [Does the war want
June 12, 2014 Ford Katie

The Lord Is a Man of War


The Lord is a man of war

I read by window and wick


and for once I believed

the book of Exodus true

the origin of our points sharpened

with fire our axes bows our pikes


and finally I could see

the cooling lava pits of their eyes

their giant gingko ears

their bellows of desert pain

how elephants became elephantry


how the woman who fevered with pox

became after death a weapon

a contagion to catapault over fortified walls


and finally I knew

why in this theater

the missiles are named

Savage Sinner Scapegoat

Peacekeeper and Goblet


Herren er en stridsmann

my descent is of the Vikings so

man is a Lord of war.



Far Desert Region


Comes August, comes December,

then April thinned of its birds.

Again August, ten times.

Fathers forage the bombed chemical plant

for barrels to carry water

from the lime-bright pools to houses

leaning inside hot wind.


To think a war might give a gift:

a pool, a clean bucket.



The Day-Shift Sleeps,


the night-war wakes:

Torturers button their canvas shirts.

They straighten their cots.

They bite their toast.

They tidy their folders.

They smoke their smokes.

They tidy their blank, blank folders.

All the little chores

before going on a trip,

theirs is the zeal of children.


[Does the war want


us to unstitch its side and climb in, to become

its good surgeon?

Stupid poet, a war can’t know

what it wants.]


Katie Ford is the author of Deposition and Colosseum, both published by Graywolf Press, and of Storm, a chapbook published by Marick Press. Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Poets & Writers, and The New Yorker, among other journals and magazines.  Her next book is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in 2014.