A Poem By Sara Joy Márquez

Global War on Terror Service Ribbon

(excerpt from “Insignia Sonnets”)

I want to turn you inside out. From head
to toe, I want to know each act you did
for us. I want numbers, how many dead
by your hand and whether they deserved it

in your mind. I fight to understand how
my brother has known what it is to kill
another, and what that might make him now.
I want to shake our nation with its twill

sports coats and golden fields fed with cow shit
by its shoulders. This war bred a terror
in you that it couldn’t take back if it
tried. It left you alone, the sole bearer

of a pain it subsidized, your face turning blue—
and it won’t let up till it’s through with you.


Originally from Wisconsin, Sara Joy Márquez has moonlighted as a farmer, butcher, and food educator. She is currently working on her first book-length manuscript, in which she examines her older brother’s experience serving in the United States Army. She is particularly interested in post-traumatic stress disorder and its reverberations within her brother’s life, their family and their community. Márquez  is due to complete her MFA from Columbia University later this summer. She resides in Brooklyn, and works in book publishing and the food industry.

Photo Credit: Corey Lyle Peterson

About the Author /

Christopher Blackman is a poet and educator. He was born in Chicago, Illinois, and grew up in Columbus, Ohio, where he attended Ohio State University. His poems have been published in the Atlas Review. He was a 2015 teaching fellow with the Kenyon Review Young Writers’ Workshop. He lives in Manhattan, where he is an MFA candidate in poetry at Columbia University.


  • Claude Forthomme

    May 28, 2016

    Very moving, this is a poem that goes straight to the heart. And signals a very talented poet of the emotions, of the human condition. I love that line: “I fight to understand how
    my brother has known what it is to kill”…

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