Jared Harel
Veterans Day, 2014

Lately, I’ve been praying 

for life to surprise me

like a pitch-black living room 

primed to fracture 

into song and streamers, 

a hand on my shoulder 

yelling, Didn’t think 

we remembered, did ya? 

Lately, my counter-thoughts 

have been riddled with guilt, 

the way a stray wallet 

excites before shaming, 

though shame lasts 

and bitters the tongue.

I saw coverage yesterday

of a third beheading

while doing crunches

on an exercise ball.

The ball, I remember,

was clown-nose red,

and never before had I felt

so damaged, so lucky

and absurd. I drove home

drowning in the hum

of sports radio, grateful 

for the scores and in-depth 

analysis. Someone

had become a restricted

free-agent. Someone

had been traded and was 

finally coming home. 






[This poem is the winner of the 2015 Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize. The prize awards $1,000 and publication of the poem in APR to a poet under 40 years of age, in honor of the late Stanley Kunitz’s dedication to mentoring younger poets.]

Found In Volume 44, No. 05
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Jared Harel
About the Author

Jared Harel’s poems have appeared in Tin House, The Southern Review, The Threepenny Review, Shenandoah and Ecotone. A graduate of Cornell’s MFA program, he lives in Astoria, Queens, teaches writing at Nassau Community College, and plays drums for the twang-rock band, The Dust Engineers.