Colin Gilbert


Colin Gilbert is the current Editor of Lamplighter Review. In addition to winning the 2006 Chicago State University Hughes, Diop, Knight Literary Award he has poems appearing in recent or upcoming editions of Minglewood, Plain Spoke, Danse Macabre, CC & D, Oak Bend Review, Calliope Nerve, and Yellow Mama. He welcomes you to add him on facebook and ridicule him for his cheesy photographs.


Three Poems (December 20, 2009. Issue 12)

To Anna Nicole from the Six Soldiers
who died the same day as her

When I enlisted, I was told to “get a girl back home.”
Not necessarily a girlfriend, but a reason to return,
something with a pulse, with an ass to slap.
Someone I could admit to never loving.

When we made it to Baghdad, we hung your picture
beside the women in flag bikinis – long-legged
tables for lust. Men did ignoble things to your smile.

You have been a lonely man’s reason to return home for some time, Anna.

Funny how many headlines you get when you’ve got big tits.
I didn’t join for headlines. But I do wear my uniform
to bars for free drinks. I advertise tattoos at parties for ass.
I am well-trained in taking. So, some of that CNN action
you got for blowing a 90-year-old guy and overdosing on pain killers
might have been expected. The fourteen surgeries
that saved PFC Williams weren’t even reported that day.
Perhaps they should have been breast implants.

My addiction to curves became boldest at your introduction,
Anna. How I saw myself in the funhouse mirrors of your hips.
I married a wife with golden hair thanks to you. My daughter
shares your endangered smile. I barely heard a bang
before the blast stole my cheeks, the IED’s teeth chewing
through my mother’s right to have a last glance. My children
knew their father’s name, required no DNA; chose to cry
“daddy” when the soldier delivered the news.
Do you think we go to the same after-place?

A waitress, you learned to label anyone with a big enough tip
friend. What did you later name the men fondling your G-string?
Did you mistake cameras for eyes when you invited them in?
Were your small-town parents proud of you too? Did they complain
at how you paid your rent? My folks never flinched at the mention
of me pulling triggers but cried loud as sirens when I was sent
to dodge bullets. How much of your story was airbrushed away, Anna?

Thank you for your surgery, the silicon and white water curves.
Thank you for your clothes tighter than caskets.
Thank you for not touting your invisible construction,
the hope parts and those annoying thinking zones.
I always believed people should know their roles.
You were best at nothing.

Do you know what they make us do here, Anna?
I relate it to bedding a man older than your father’s father.
The shouldered flag – my wedding ring – I have done worse
to a people than you ever did to a gender. Soldiers are boxes
of tools built to take apart what other people have spent generations
constructing. On leave, I watched this news broadcast that painted
camouflage the uniform of saints and decried you for walking down
an aisle, as if we both didn’t cash checks on the hips of death.

Dance Lessons

Do you remember when we were songs?
We twirled in lawns and streets,
arms outspread
one day
we would find rhythm
in another’s face?

I had feet once,
glorious feet.
I traded them for wounds
and stories. I was writing
the day I asked your name
and singing.

You want
spinning, like a pinwheel.
You live for wind.
Unsteady, I
will learn your dance.
Do not expect me
to forget my psalms.

Pride Night – Tyler, Texas

tonight feels less like pride
and more like safety. perhaps
that’s all we need, a night
given to us – stickers colored

for some cliché that follows
the storm. lightning hasn’t
even made it to our parade
route yet. but damn, we look good.