Poet Brian Turner—a veteran of Iraq– read at the library as part of ALOUD last night. He read about exhausted Scheherezade falling off the Al-A’imma Bridge, about desert winds, and soldiers bleeding out. He read about child sobbing that his father was a “good man,” he read about headless Iraqi translators who appear in his dreams. He wrote of women in abayas floating in the waters of the Tigris River, the rotor sounds of helicopter blades, about a caliph trampled to death by horses. He carried us to the landscape of that war that has no front lines, the war that takes place in small stucco houses with dirt floors, in cargo containers booming disco music. How are we complicit in that war that still smoulders and the one in Afghanistan that still rages? There was a young woman who sat on a bench during the booksigning, silently crying. Her husband or friend kept his hand on her back, trying to comfort her. Brian paused during the booksigning to speak with them. I couldn’t hear what he said. She nodded at him gratefully. He wrote something on a note and gave it to her. Afterwards, he told me that her cousin—a soldier in Afghanistan—stepped on an IED two days ago and lost both his legs, but he doesn’t know it yet. “And it goes on and on,” he said.