Joshua Hagy 

My brother told me the eighth member of his unit
committed suicide today, and I wondered what it
must be like to look down the barrel of a gun with
your own finger on the trigger. There was so much

and so little I could say. I don’t understand because
I didn’t go with him. I wish I had, but I can never say
this because words are empty of valor and I was never
made to serve, not like him. I want to say, “Call me if

you’re ever that low,” but I don’t because he’s calling
me now, but I want to say it to know I said it, for the
security of sound, but I don’t because we don’t need to
make this awkward, yet I’ve seen him lock up whenever

a car backfires and flinch at war’s echoes lighting up 
the Fourth of July and I’ve seen the look in his eyes
when Darkness whispers “I like this discord. Let’s 
continue,” because there is no walking away from

living damnation even if this is the one fight he
cannot win and the one fight he cannot afford 
to lose and this is the one war I want to make damn
sure I sign up for so I’m not left behind this time

but I’m not sure it matters because we watched
two tumbling towers change the world the year it
was supposed to be ours and part of my best friend is
stuck somewhere I didn’t go, so he can’t find me over there.


I am a newspaper reporter-turned-high school English teacher. Being a writer has been my dream
since I wrote my first short story in the first grade. I write a twice-monthly Virginia Press
Association award-winning newspaper column of creative non-fiction with a circulation of
approximately 12,000 people, and I have had poetry published by Prometheus Dreaming and
Coffin Bell Journal. I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in Creative Writing through
Southern New Hampshire University while preparing to redesign my instruction methods for fall
to deal with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. I live in western Virginia with my wife,
Bethany, and our two dogs, Jayce and Burrfoot.

Twitter: @The_Hagy23, Instagram handle: @the_hagy 23