A Photograph of a Young Confederate Before He Ships Out to Vicksburg

by Lance Levens

He stares at me, importunate: how far
from home am I to go? His lips seem set
to lather up a cheap, old mule cigar,
as he struggles not to show the boy and fret.
Vicksburg’s a name. He hasn’t breathed the air
inside those caves, that acrid, rotting smell,
but just now he’s begun to ponder where
he’s from. He sees ma ring the dinner bell.
In the cane lot the mule plods out its debts
whose sand circumference has given the hand
who feeds the grind a bob-and-weave Tourette’s.
He tastes the syrup, bubbling as it’s panned,
and on the fence there’s a rattler he can smell.
The sun will make a three-day carcass swell.

Lance Levens is a writer and Latin teacher (St. Andrews on the Marsh, Savannnah GA). His short stories, poems and essays have appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, The Chimaera, Raintown Review and others. Jubilate,  a chapbook (Pudding House Press) was published in 2007, the year he was nominated by Storyglossia for a Pushcart Prize in fiction.

See links to all sonnets by this author

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Pat Jones
Published 2 January 2011