The Pistol Star
by Brian Turner

Brighter than 10,000 suns merged into one, fueling
so brilliant its diameter equals Jupiter's orbit of the sun,
the Pistol Star, shining hard enough to be seen
even in this dim backwater of the cosmos, earth,
shining overhead, though blurred distant by the shimmering
asteroid dust of the Milky Way, that long string of stars
like halogen floodlights strung the length of the Korean border,
where a soldier gaurds razorwire and cut up limbs
from the forest pine groves, watching in a dreamless shift
at the 38th parallel, at the DMZ, under a music sent
through canyon rockways and the windbent spines
of trees aged many seasons in the unlit North.

And that bivouacked sniper nightscopes bodies of heat
in infrared, crosshairing scouts who trail themselves
with what looks like a smearing vapor the color of blood.
He does not squeeze the trigger to shoulder the recoil.
He watches how their firegas bodies move like foraging deer.
How one kneels in the distance, as if in meditation,
his head hung over a tripwire's spool, spinning further
and further out, how that red ball of flame, the skull's
flesh remains perfectly still, billions of neurons,
dendrites crackling in encephalic fluid, his eyes and ears
attuned and pensive, cocked, as beautiful as a tiger's head,
the reticular crosshatchings on his brow as velvety deep
as those forming the Chinese word for peace, pyung wha.

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