Good intentions pave roads to hell.
Tactical maneuvers force soldiers
to stifle--to suppress the enemy’s voice.
Sucking sap through tree roots
cicadas that spent seventeen years under ground,
emerge and transform--sprouting wings.
High in the branches of ironwood trees, villagers wish for wings
to lift them from the gaping mouth of hell.
After seventeen years waiting under ground
a million cicadas pulse out yearning, over soldiers
screaming to be heard, tripping over ironwood roots--
cicadas, explosions, and wishes--one screaming voice.
His mother’s storyteller voice
drew parallels between the cicada’s sprouting wings
and the wings yet to come from Aoul’s violent roots
germinated after the last cicada hell-
when his mother rose and fell against a soldier’s
hips grinding hers into the ground.
Every night Aoul sleeps on the ground.
Every night he hears his mother’s voice
crying out against the soldiers
crying out for angel’s wings.
She’s seen all she wants of hell.
She receives no nourishment from roots.
Save his mother, Aoul knows no roots.
Although, through men on the ground
his father’s hell
shares its voice.
Aoul stands to raise his wings
He stands against and for the soldiers.
His father, his mother, cicadas, and soldiers--
ashes to ashes to ashes to roots
bullets, grenades, and wings
he steps from the branch and flies to the ground
giving his voice
Soldiers kick the boy’s lifeless body across the ground
into the ironwood roots that sustain the mating voice
of the cicadas, whose wings fan the gates of hell.