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The Rumor

NEWS!! Three poems from "The Rumor" were awarded quarter-finalist status by the national Pablo Neruda Prize in Poetry. Three poems from this manuscript were given honorable mentions from the Emily Dickinson Poetry Award. Many have been published. The title poem (an intense saga of Vietnam Dust-off pilots and medics) was awarded the "Conference Find" top award at the Southern California Writer's Conference. I was thrilled when I was given the honor to read this poem at the Conference banquet. "The Rumor" was also put forward for the Lyric Recovery prize's readings at Carnegie Hall. It has not yet been published because of the length. But then, it was a long war. My editing on this work seems to go on and on, but it is now nearly done. I added many new poems and realigned the chapters and the poems.



Check out my new photo essay on the WWII, glorious B-17 Flying Fortress.

Excerpts from THE RUMOR poems

(winner of honorable mention from the Emily Dickinson Poetry Award)

Now about the phantom limb phenomenon:
within the muted wonder of the human brain
there exists a homunculus with every part
attached to concentrated memory of physical
perfection in toto.

Authority of mind demands wholeness
of itself "this must continue" says the mind
even if the body refuses agreement, even if
leg or arm is cleanly sliced away, discarded
then the mind's idea of the body,
the mind's lifelong dream of the body moving
among the stuff of its unique
waking and sleeping world
remains unchanged
making it seem supreme unto itself,
a god worshiped by the cells
of thought itself.

So the dispelled limb cast into the crematorium
lives on in a soldier's grief-struck consciousness,
it commands attention, requires attentiveness
to detail, the poor ghost leg or arm insists
that it is still present,
still touching things out there,
still sends messages of
awful pain to the bewildered body,
still feels the bullets,
flames, scalpels.

©Copyright 2006 Judith Cody all right reserved
previously published in the South Carolina Review, and also reprinted in the PEN anthology,“Words Upon the Waters.”


There in the silence of sunrise
he stood hunched beneath
his duffel bag
an apparition it seemed
to his sleep drugged wife
and children
an amazing epilogue
to the years of bullets

There we gathered by the
dawn's early light around
our exhausted victor where
we believed everything
was new again, the same
again, home again.

There was the day again
but perfect and pure
free of the red glare of war
here was where rest enough
home enough would heal
would cure memories
bruises of the brain even
bring back the mastery
of love, the natural
flow of the family
would mend the scar
of a world at war
our trust was still there.

©copyright 2006 Judith Cody, previously published in Poet Lore.

    battlements razed

When enough time had elapsed
so that some of the soul
could be deposited back
into the coffer of the body
the body then cleansed, coiffeured
contained in an unsullied
soldier suit, the old familiar
smile affixed to the sad face
the medals pinned upon the
anguished breast, only then
were the fathers
returned to their homes.

© 2006-2009 copyright Judith Cody
previously published in, Nimrod International Journal, and also reprinted in, The Cumberland Poetry Review, in its final commemorative issue.

   California, 2006

Only the whirl
of thousands of blades slicing air like salami
like bullets burning holes in people
like screams slicing the air like bullets
like war bulletins slicing air like blades
like fear in our ears
like new ways to die
every new minute.

Like blades slicing their way to hospitals
like people sliced in surgery screaming
like leaves sliced from trees by tornadoes
like hell folded up like a paper plane flying
like spent bullets resting in brains
like spilled blood
like skin liquified by fire
like sliced soap.

Only the moans of thousands of people
bound to baskets bound to helicopters
bound to wards where burned soldiers are collected
like moths pinned to machines still alive,
like soldiers, like fathers, like lovers, like kids.

Only the whirl
of thousands of blades slicing my dreams
like screams, splattered guts, stinking burns
like the same roaring scene played over and over
on thousands of nights, even days, even when
cool silence calms memories, buries visions
like a simple traffic helicopter overhead
wakes the dead over and over.

© 2006 copyright Judith Cody
previously published in, Nimrod International Journal, and also reprinted in the PEN anthology, Oakland Out Loud



(winner of honorable mention from the Emily Dickinson Poetry Award 2002)
   Yokohama, 1968

And the pearl moon was eclipsed by the
swift hornet helicopters loaded with
human cargo clutched from the frothing
ambush in Nam, flown here to be fixed
and none of us
ever slept again without
this picture pinned inside our

Some of us lay on tatami
under the Blood Way
of iron stars hurtling
overhead in the
dark night
of a thousand killed a month
a thousand blown and burnt
offerings to the demon of war
and the Blood Way kept flowing
all through the nights
flowing overhead rippling against
the black skies the red arterial
spurts of many men, soldiers, friends,
flowing overhead overhead
against the white
glowing stars of the Milky Way
against the fading stars of dawn
against the raising stars of twilight
the Blood Way keeps flowing,
keen and bright human blood
of those who will go on;
soft and dull blood
of the dead and dying.

The Blood Way screams the
screams of a million years
of cellular evolution demanding life
insisting life,
life ebbs anyway on the Blood Way
life struggles,
ceases on the Blood Way
life lasts awhile sometimes
O but the roar of the rescue ships
the roar, the stink of fuel
the rage of rotors
the furious fear
the never failing desperation
of the crews,
saving, sorting, salvaging
the broken bodies
desperation fell
down upon us like a soaked
sheet from the bloody
road in the sky
the smell of fear sweat,
the fevers of
infected wounds;
but the roar that
filled my young body
with an unknown fear of
all unknown things
(no one had named it Tet yet).

© 2007 copyright Judith Cody
previously published in, The Louisville Review