The War Reporter Paul Watson and the Poet Try to Have Fun



A series of poems, entitled "Arctic Graffiti," about untangled seal guts, elusive hares and Inuit sculptors in the Arctic tundra.

with the usual boys of summer shooting

slapshots like rifles. Puck-scuffed Plexiglas

rebounding off Paul’s gaze. The Somalian    

kid in the chopper crewman’s goggles grins

at us. The top of another boy’s head’s   

been sliced open like an egg, his skull wiped    

clean inside by bullet fire. The infant’s

head twists off its chest, topples from the bed

to the warped wood floor. Sand is snow. Let’s go

okay? This lighting’s for shit and these damn

kids keep knocking my camera. How many

hands you have? I have two, you have two but

what happened to Paul? Oh well, he was born

that way. Just like you were born Inuit

and I was born with anxiety. Help him!

Help him! Why won’t you help your friend? See that

hole in the wall, Dan? Most people notice

that and think someone’s been drilling. I see

a bullet hole. How fucked is that? Fording

flumes of snow indistinguishable from

celestial dunes. Wondering who is that man

following us? Why don’t we try to find

a shaman, Paul? I’ve read the Inuit

still believe that shamans can turn themselves

into animals, seals and bears. Into

other people too. All in the pursuit

of exorcising ghosts. An Arctic hare

like a newborn standing weirdly upright

in the skidoo’s sweeping glare. When the light’s

gone, hare’s gone also. Oh, which reminds me,

Dan, I’m trying to set up a sled ride

with these Inuit hunters. 500

dollars but I’ll pay it, or the Star will

I mean. While flakes of snow drift down like dust

off the high shelf. Wasted men in doorways

let us pass. Graffiti warning, Arctic

for life! Because the Internet’s calling

for snow tonight, but we’ll try to have fun

tomorrow if the weather’s any good.

This is the second of three poems. Read the third one.

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Dan O’Brien is a playwright and poet whose work has appeared in The Moth, Malahat Review, Grain and many other periodicals. He lives in Los Angeles.



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