Neon Vernacular by Yusef Komunyakaa - Neon Vernacular was probably the first collection of poetry I read. Komunyakaa's work gave me a new way to see and to think about my war service. As poets often say, he [Komunyakaa] gave me permission to write about and think about Iraq.
What It Is Like To Go To War by Chana Bloch - Came to me a recommendation from a friend and fellow veteran. It is one of those books whose lessons I think about regularly. The nature of personal evil, what it takes to come home from war and begin life again. Marlantes taught me coming home is a journey, and in some ways I see myself reflected in his narrative. It has helped me to take care.
The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai - I found Amichai's work by accident, but I'm glad I did. He has a poem entitled "The Diameter of the Bomb" which shows the global and to a degree the spiritual dilemma of even one death caused by direct human action. I had this poem in my head as I was writing my play "Dijla Wal Furat, Between the Tigris and Euphrates," which looks at the fallout from a short mortar round fired by a team of Marines in Iraq.
The Collected Poetry of Jack Gilbert - I go to Gilbert when I need to write about highly emotional topics. He is gentle but direct. I love his work for that especially the poems about Michiko, his deceased wife.