Phantom Noise (2010)
Phantom Noise at Amazon.com
Praise for Phantom Noise:
“With courage and an uncommon willingness to see the world as it actually is, Brian Turner returns in Phantom Noise with a bullet-borne language in which helicopters hover like spiders over a film of water. His poem Al-A’imma Bridge alone proves his mastery, and joins him to the tradition of Wilfred Owen and David Jones, for he is their descendent, his poetic gifts detonated into a spray of lyric force that will mark what is possible in poetry for years to come, a chiseling of agony onto paper and a poignant cri de Coeur to the republic of conscience.”
"There is the war we know—from Hollywood and CNN, about dirt-smeared soldiers disarming IEDs and roaring along in Humvees and kicking down the doors of terrorist hideouts—and then there is the battleground of the mind, the war that Brian Turner carried home with him like a rucksack full of dynamite.... We might be able to change the channel, to turn the dial on the radio, to skim past a disturbing article, but Brian doesn’t have that luxury: because the news is in his head, the ghosts of Iraq have followed him home and he brings them to life with a staggering arsenal of talent."
"It's hard to think of a better way around ideology than poetry like this. Turner shows us soldiers who are invincible and wounded, a nation noble and culpable…He brings us closer to our own phantom guilt and speaks the words that we both do and do not want to hear."
—The Washington Post
“Staring hard through a calibrated sight, this former infantry team
leader…reveals the particular music of death and violence and
military service, and these poems unfold with his effort to find
meaning, to be decent, and to be alert to the suffering all around.”
“Turner fascinated and unsettled many with his first collection,
Here, Bullet,...this volume continues his mission...in sharp,
straightforward, yet lyrical language, Turner exposes the many costs
“Turner’s debut, Here, Bullet (2005) was likely the most discussed
debut of the decade… It’s a hard act to follow, but Turner manages
“Phantom Noise is an enlightening and intriguing contribution to
contemporary poetry that reaffirms the talent readers first observed
in Brian Turner’s debut book. This rich and resonant new volume
proves Brian Turner now has firmly earned a position as
one of the nation’s more valuable poets.”
—Valparaiso Poetry Review
Mohammed Trains for the Beijing Olympics, 2008
In the 69 kilogram weight class,
the Bulgarian, Boevski, is the world
record-holder. He cannot be beaten.
At least, not by Sawara Mohammed.
Mohammed, at 26, has shoveled cement
longer than he cares to remember. In Arbil,
in Kurdish northern Iraq, he strains hard
to lift the barbell with its heavy plates,
round as the wheels of chariots—then, muscles give
and the wheels bounce in dust before him. No,
he cannot defeat the Bulgarian.
The problem is in lifting weight over distance.
It isn’t a matter of iron, or of will.
In Beijing, Boevski’s records will go
unnoticed, because Mohammed is training now
to lift the city of Arbil, with its people;
his quadriceps and posterior chain
straining, the muscles tremoring to lift
the Euphrates and Tigris both, mountains
of the north, deserts of the west, Basra,
Karbala, Ramadi, Tikrit, Mosul,
three decades of war and the constant suffering
of millions—this is what Sawara lifts,
and no matter what effort he makes, he will fail
completely, and the people will love him for it.