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When the Great War

Honorable Mention 2017 Poetry Contest

As my mother tells it,
when the Great War
came
        my Great-Grandmother
Guarneschella lied. Dates
are relative.
                   Domenico
wouldn’t be 16. Wouldn’t be
conscripted. Didn’t matter.
Ran away
                with his cousin
to the front at 14. Earned him
a bayonet gash
                         he would boast
a lifetime later. No one else
in his unit
                 survived. Once,
I touched that smooth
valley
           in his right shin,
looking, wondering
all the while
                     what he
could not tell us.

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Dominic W. Holt is a poet and public policy and communications specialist in Madison, Wisconsin. He taught writing at the University of Michigan and interned at the Michigan Quarterly Review.

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