Knowing What You’re Made Of by Michael Maul

There’s a value, I suppose, to knowing the core of things.

I was making the case to my nephew why he must return to the VA
In exasperation I said what everyone was saying:
that he came back a different person than the one who went.

He stared amazed. “Well sure. Now I’m made out of mostly titanium and
dead people.”

And so it goes. Each day the IED blows,
though this time without surprise,
detonating remotely, I see, in the deep of his eyes.

Cut loose by the Percocet, Demerol and Vicodin
he watches himself ambling a fairgrounds midway
lapsing in and playing out snips of circus scenes:
A volunteer is called from the audience and stands awkwardly on stage.
Unpracticed, picked at random,
But then whoosh… vanishes in a bang, on cue, exactly like a pro.

Leaving dazzled gawkers in the grass,
Straining to see what they just saw:
that super men, encased even in armor,
can float up so high, carried off so far
with only the clap of a hand.


Michael Maul is a writer whose work has appeared in various literary publications, most recently in The Montucky Review (August, 2013) and Big River Poetry Review (September, 2013). He is also a past winner of Cincinnati’s Mercantile Library Prize for Fiction.

He is currently living in Cincinnati, Ohio.