BANG! authors are showcased individually here online for a month. Each author installment is made up of three pieces in any combination: poetry shorts (20 lines) or fiction or nonfiction (500 words each) for a month. All work on must be previously unpublished. Submission period runs all year round. BANG! pieces are not published in The New Guard. Work should be very short: flash-short. Pieces on BANG! are meant to serve as a kind of calling card for the author. :: Our next installment will be posted November 1. ::
Our September/October BANG! author is Amy M. Alvarez. Amy is a BANG! invited writer.
AMY M. ALVAREZ
A native New Yorker, Amy M. Alvarez currently teaches English at West Virginia University. She has previously been published in The New Guard, and was a semi-finalist in the Volume V Knightville Poetry Contest, judged by Roger Bonair-Agard. Her work has also appeared in The Wide Shore and Black Renaissance Noire. Alvarez holds an MFA in Poetry from the Stonecoast program at USM.
NEW poetry by amy m. alvarez
Photo of My Brother in Djibouti, 2016
:: A poem in three parts ::
This month, a picture of my brother is featured
in Soldiers magazine. I saw it on his Facebook
wall, reposted there by one of his buddies. In the photo,
he sits in a foxhole he has likely dug himself—a shell-
shaped depression in sand with rocks piled on the rim.
He holds an automatic rifle with an enormous scope.
His face is still boyishly round. The light tells me it is sunrise.
His uniform is covered in sand, his boots press into the ground.
He seems to be posing, a smile in his eyes, his mouth void.
According to the blurb, he is manning a defensive fighting position
in East Africa during a strong point defense training exercise.
It dawns on me that this is the first time I have ever seen
my brother holding a real gun. Our mother never allowed
him to have toy weapons of any kind, (too violent, she would
say) so he made them from sticks, Legos, clay, from cardboard
tubes and electrical tape.
Online, the comments section below the image
is filled with platitudes from strangers, thanking my brother
for his sacrifice and service. There is also advice,
use sandbags instead of rocks, and criticism, doesn’t look
like much of a fighting position to me. His civilian friends
tease did you Photoshop this? His army friends say he’s
In his bedroom at home, dusty taekwondo trophies,
a bible, Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and piano sheet
music litter the top of his dresser. Last year at Christmas,
he taught himself “Maple Leaf Rag” and “Silent Night.” He
played both songs, loudly, for whoever would listen.
Before he left after the holiday, he found the flag that covered
our grandfather’s casket, unfurled it from its fifty year triangle,
hung it on the only wall without windows. In the back of his open
closet lie the remains of his childhood arsenal—tape peeling off,
the wood splintered—but still, somewhat, intact.
Poetry © Amy M. Alvarez 2016. All rights reserved by the author.
Previous authors with appearances on BANG! are: Patricia Smith, Jose Padua, Pete Follansbee, Alexandra Oliver, Mike Heppner, Marc Mewshaw, Timothy Dyke, Marcia Popp, Quenton Baker, Joshua Graber, Charles Wyatt, Julio Duggan, Erica Vega, Jonathan Segol, Lissa Kiernan, Roger Bonair-Agard, James Kimbrell, Bridget Boland, E.G. Cunningham, Melissa Goode, Mark Wagstaff, Carla Stern, Sarah Glass, Jennifer Amell, Zakia R. Khwaja, Julie Poitras Santos, Lyall Harris and Amy Nash.