Soldier-turned-Crime-Writer Delivers Punchy War Poetry

In a punchy collection of poetry packed with humor and grit, The Explosion Takes Both Legs: Noir Poems from the War in Iraq, former U.S. Army infantry-officer-turned-crime-writer J.B. Stevens delivers both action and insight into how Americans go to war in the 21st century.

Despite the can’t-miss, explosive nature of some of his war stories, his poems are also often filled with stoic, deadpan grace. For example, he begins “A Ghost in an Arabian Desert” with ...

“After we returned,
We had a ceremony and the commander said many nice things,
I got a Bronze Star.

My mother and father and brothers met me at the base,
Because my fiancée had cheated and left,
And my brother brought me ice-cream. [...]”

Stevens’ collection of noirish short-fiction,  A Therapeutic Death: Violent Short Stories, was published in 2022 by Shotgun Honey Books. Infused with TV and other pop-culture references, Stevens’ debut poetry collection,The Best of America Cannot Be Seen: Pop Poems, was published in 2021 by Alien Buddha Press.

Stevens is a two-time past finalist in the Col. Darron L. Wright Memorial Writing Awards, with one award each in prose (2022) and poetry (2021) categories. The awards are administered annually by the Chicago-based literary journal Line of Advance.

A graduate of The Citadel, a military college in Charleston, South Carolina, Stevens now lives in the Southeastern United States with his wife and daughter. Visit his website:

Launching Sept. 5, 2023:

The Explosion Takes Both Legs: Noir Poems from the War in Iraq (83 pages, Middle West Press LLC), available in a $11.99 trade paperback edition through Amazon and other booksellers, as well as a $5.99 Kindle e-book edition exclusively via Amazon.

Middle West Press LLC is a Johnston, Iowa-based editor and publisher of non-fiction, journalism, and poetry. As an independent micro-press, we publish one to four titles annually. Our projects are often inspired by the people, places, and history of the American Midwest.


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