Curator of the National Archive of Collective Memory and War Memorabilia called with concerns about some of my war story facts, dates and names and other details his office had been trying to independently verify for some time now. A number of incongruities in my stories have caused uncertainty in certain circles as to whether or not I was really even in Iraq at all, he said. I got a little defensive at this point and paused to swallow before asking him where it was he thought all these memories came from. But the curator caught the shake in my voice and assured me it wasn’t worth getting too worked up about, they were just following protocol after all. Perhaps the memories were stories I’d told myself so long now that they may as well be mine, he said, stories based on bits of movies and books I’d seen or read, or heard others tell over the years. We simply can’t bee too careful, you understand, about the damage to the integrity of the archive even one rogue memory could cause. I’m sure you know this, Mr. Jones—though it never hurts to be reminded that when all else has failed, only truth will set you free.
We meet at the wall of 4,000 stars
and I almost speak
But choose instead to follow my dead grandpa,
eight years gone this summer,
to the Atlantic pavilion with foreign
names he never forgot.
Yeah, we was there.
St. Marie Eglise.
We was near there.
A beautiful place
before we got there.
Hell yes. War got good then.
I follow him around the plaza’s center pool
until he stops, hand in pocket,
in front of ARKANSAS,
home of his best friend Chitty,
fellow machine gunner cut in half
in a sawmill accident a few years after the war.
The tourist crowd I cam early to avoid
is filling the monument now.
Go on along feller, he says, I’ll catch up.
I turn before ascending the stairs: He stands,
a hunched figure, in front of ARKANSAS.
Still, in front of ARKANSAS
Brock Jones is currently pursuing a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Utah. His poems have been published in the Iowa Review, Lunch Ticket, Sugar House Review, and Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, among others. He currently lives in Utah with his wife and daughter.