Spring 2024

A Disgraced War Veteran Finishes His Exile

By Jacob Reina

You looked like a snowman in the seat of your wheelchair:
Legless, in a knitted cap, a scarf worn loose, pipe in lap.
I stumbled on behind you, urging you to rethink plans—
What was it pushing you toward the center of a frozen lake?
I told you it was thirty below,             slipped off the roadside—
            Six-hour darkness looming over the lake’s horizon.
You wheeled yourself on,             finished with the snowfall.
You wheeled yourself onto the lake’s outer edge.
            I saw you spin,             rolling back,
While I lost my footing in the mud.

First hearing a lake crack is like a gun cocking in your ear.

You dropped into the water as quickly as my eyes closed.
Then I heard from the birch branch,
                                                            Some snow drop onto the shore.

Jacob Reina is a full-time student at Fresno State, studying English, linguistics, and creative writing. His poems have been featured by Allegory Ridge, Cathexis Northwest Press, Poets Choice, Rougarou, Prometheus Dreaming, and You Might Need to Hear This. Aside from school and writing, he works as a tutor, loves nature, photography, and speaking with his wife who still lives abroad. He currently lives in Fresno and is writing his first novel.

Spring 2024