David Ray begins his powerful poem with a rumination on a photograph of an American airman hitting golf balls on an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf. The image was published in The New York Times in 2003.

David Ray reads “World Within World.”

World Within World

David Ray

Why has this picture so long haunted me—

an American airman on the stern deck

of an aircraft carrier practicing golf,

his club in the air about to be swung

as if he were back home on the green?

One golf ball at a time he lofts into the wake

churning in the blue Persian Gulf, a white

road to the far horizon, one sea at a time—one

war at a time, the duty to fill up the sea with one

little world at a time.

David Ray is the author of 23 books, including “Hemingway: A Desperate Life,” “The Death of Sardanapalus and Other Poems of the Iraq Wars,” “One Thousand Years: Poems about the Holocaust,” “Music of Time: Selected & New Poems” and “The Endless Search.” Ray has also published many essays and stories. An emeritus professor of University of Missouri-Kansas City’s English department, he now lives and writes in Tucson, Ariz.


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