Night Patrol by Bruce Guernsey

Night Patrol

My father never slept real well after the war
and as my mother tells, he woke in fear
so deep, so far away, he seemed to stare
straight out at nothing she could see or hear.

Or worse—she wraps her robe around her, remembering—
he’d sit there grinning, bolt upright beside her,
this mad look on his face, the bed springs quivering
with some hilarity the night had whispered.

And once, “He did this, your father, I swear he did—
he must have been still dreaming, rest his soul—
he tried to close my frightened eyes, my lids,
to thumb them shut like he was on patrol

the way he’d learned so they would sleep, the dead,
and then he blessed himself and bowed his head.”

by Bruce Guernsey

Editor’s Note: This sonnet uses dialogue and enjambment to great effect—showing the fractured psyche of a man who came back from war not entirely whole via his family’s memories of his rough nights.

The Present by Bruce Guernsey

The Present

For her birthday that year
I bought my mother
a new kind of phone,
the kind she could carry
all over the house
so she wouldn’t be alone
anywhere anymore,

except she couldn’t remember
where she’d left it
most of the time those days
and hurried in her slippers
from one room to the next
only to hear it ringing
somewhere down the hall

and opened the front door
to no one there
or still on the phone
when she finally found it
where she never put it,
the house getting bigger
as she got smaller

but no less busy
than she was before
with us six kids
and my father at work, or war—
that new phone like having us
still around, calling from somewhere,
upstairs or down.

by Bruce Guernsey

Editor’s Note: A long sentence and short lines create a sense of urgency and loss that reflect the subject of the narrator’s worry with great effect.