ANC034: Future Wars by Kyle Hemmings
We entered an area where the enemy / was known to use a mix of gases / they called Simple Euphoria. / Scents of orange, honey, and rose / drifted through us. We were reduced / to children with magical gifts, / making shelled buildings levitate, / or windows bulge like pregnant bellies.
In the dying days of our second world war, with the führer nothing more than a petrol stain and Uncle Joe squeezing his mustache through their backdoor, Hirohito's goons tried in vain to rid the world of Unit 731. Alas, time was not on their side but the facility's American discovery proved highly fortuitous. Tucked away in the newly liberated Manchurian countryside, MacArthur and his men found evidence of unanesthetized vivisection; plague experimentation; and death by centrifuge, x-ray, or injection of animal blood. Prisoners became test subjects for fine-tuning flamethrowers, grenades, and chemical weapons. Frostbite, gangrene, and venereal diseases were areas of tremendous research; rape was both an incident to be studied and a way to pass the time for Unit 731's doctors. In all, upward of a quarter million men, women, and children died at this site alone. It was one of many medical laboratories. When it fell in to Allied hands, immunity was quickly granted in exchange for its secrets. Although the world was at least affecting the pretense of falling back in to place, there would be battles to come. To the victors went the spoils: further mastery in the art of death.
Kyle Hemmings' Future Wars portrays a world hell-bent on finding increasingly surreal ways to eradicate itself. Reflecting the enduring futility of war, the poems' narrators amble about in a timeless, dreamlike fugue; exactly when and where it all may end is never fully evident. References to conflicts from past and current theaters of war are scattered throughout but for every moment of familiarity, the "lasers and whited-out sunsets" of some yet unseen nightmare appear. Hemmings has complemented this collection with two short suites capturing the paranoia and disorientation present on the home front. Civilians composed of rock and schizophrenic souls await the inevitable, if it has not already occurred. In a world where everything is some form of destruction, it can be difficult to know if you have truly been obliterated.