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by Eric Janken
Southern Cultures, Vol. 22, No. 2: Summer 2016

I could not bring myself to warn Joe, doing so would cause his legs to give out, his heart collapse: you told me every life is sacred.

Army of the Cumberland
February 5, 1862, cold and snowing

Dear Father,
More pitiful than packs of feral cats
the horde staggered into camp,
their black faces smothered in clay,
arthritic fingers mangled with dirt,
echoes of tobacco juice still embedded
in their palms.