Judith McCombs



I wander through each guarded street
Near where the Elected ebb and flow,
And mark in each closed face I meet
Pride of power, price of woe.

Another Officer’s beeping scan,
Another Alien’s cough of fear;
In every check point, every ban,
The mind-forged manacles I hear.

How the collateral Mourner’s cry
Every body count appalls;
And the hooded Prisoner’s sigh
Runs in blood down whitewashed walls.

But most through midnight streets I hear
How the hapless Soldier’s curse
Blasts the maiming of these years
And blights with tears the Victory hearse.



Judith McCombs grew up in almost all the continental states, in a geodetic surveyor's family. Her work appears in Calyx, Nimrod (where it received a Neruda Award), Poet Lore, Poetry, Poetry Northwest, Potomac Review (where it won a Poetry Prize), Prairie Schooner, Prism, Sisters of the Earth, and elsewhere. She has held NEH and Canadian Senior Embassy Fellowships, and Michigan and Maryland Arts Awards. The Habit of Fire: Poems Selected & New is her seventh book. She teaches at the Writer's Center in Bethesda MD, arranges the Kensington Row Bookshop poetry readings, and was poetry editor for the 2005 Potomac Review Hilary Tham tribute issue.


Published in Volume 7, Number 2, Spring 2006.


To read more work by this author:
Judith McCombs: The Whitman Issue