War and Pieces of Reality Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Despite all the graphic, inventive detailed descriptions of the physical suffering and the mental anguish Turner has endured, in the end, it is the cliche, metaphoric image of a breaking heart that sends the strongest message. It should break any human being's heart to kill, and those who are not emotionally torn up by taking another human being's life are therefore, essentially heartless.

There is also an indication in Here, Bullet, that it is not only the heart that malfunctions in the throes of death and killing, but the brain as well. When Turner speaks of "the leap thought makes at the synaptic gap" he is symbolizing the leap a person's mind is forced to make from have a respect for life and compassion for mankind to suddenly believe that it is okay to kill, maim and torture in the name of your country. Thus from Turner's point-of-view, after being forced make this mental leap himself, soldier's cannot survive a war without being both mentally and emotionally damaged. Even if their flesh is in tact, their mind and their soul have been permanently injured.

Turner represents this concept metaphorically in Here, Bullet when he begins to see himself as the weapon from which the bullet emerges. He is no longer made of flesh and cartilage, he is made of cold, hard metal like the killing 'machine' he has become. This is abundantly evident in the following lines:

here is where I moan the barrel's cold esophagus, triggering my tongue's explosives for the rifling I have inside of me, each twist of the round spun deeper,

The "barrel's cold esophagus" is a way of symbolizing the amalgamation of human parts and weapon parts, therefore demonstrating the poet's gradually growing inability to distinguish himself from a man who kills from an inanimate object that kills. This growing confusion has made his fiery rage confront his emerging coldness. His tongue is exploding -- he is spitting anger and resentment and pain out of his mouth (and ultimately his pen). Yet at the same time, he can feel the rifle's chamber spinning deeper and deeper inside him, turning his blood to liquid metal and his warm heart to a dark, cold, empty chamber.

It is difficult not to be taken in by Turner's unfiltered expression and vibrant language. Andrew Himes, the editor of Voices in Wartime Anthology has this to say about Turner's raw honesty: "Brian Turner writes as only a soldier can, of terror and compassion, hurt and horror, sympathy and desire. He takes us into the truth and trauma of the Iraq war in language that is precise, delicate and beautiful, even as it tells of a suicide bomber, a skull shattered by a bullet, a blade in a bloodgroove." It is interesting to see words such as delicate and beautiful being used to describe shattered skulls and bloody blades. But it is ultimately this talent for paradox that makes Turner's poetry so intriguing. While it is glaringly unfortunate that Turner, or any human being, has to go endure the atrocities of war, the rest of the world benefits from the beauty of expression that emerged from it in Here, Bullet, Sadaq and the rest of Turner's poetry. Simply writing about war from a third person perspective, or reading about it from someone who is never experienced it, will never have the dynamic impact that the first hand experiences of a soldier will have. Brian Turner has proven this beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Works Cited

Turner, Brian, "Here, Bullet" Here, Bullet, Alice James Books, 2005

Turner, Brian, "Sadiq" Here, Bullet, Alice James Books, 2005

Himes, Andrew, Voices in Wartime Anthology, cited in Alice James Books. Web. 17 June, 2010. http://www.alicejamesbooks.org/pages/book_page.php?bookID=43

Whetstone, David. Culture: A Poet in Tangled Battle Lines of Iraq; Plenty of Poets Described the Horrors of the First World War, but in Modern Combat Zones They Are a Rare Beast. David Whetstone Talks to American Poet Brian Turner, Who Served in Iraq. The Journal (Newcastle, England). March 17, 2008,…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Turner, Brian, "Here, Bullet" Here, Bullet, Alice James Books, 2005

Turner, Brian, "Sadiq" Here, Bullet, Alice James Books, 2005

Himes, Andrew, Voices in Wartime Anthology, cited in Alice James Books. Web. 17 June, 2010. http://www.alicejamesbooks.org/pages/book_page.php?bookID=43

Whetstone, David. Culture: A Poet in Tangled Battle Lines of Iraq; Plenty of Poets Described the Horrors of the First World War, but in Modern Combat Zones They Are a Rare Beast. David Whetstone Talks to American Poet Brian Turner, Who Served in Iraq. The Journal (Newcastle, England). March 17, 2008, p. 18.

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