top of page

In an explosive first collection of poetry, HEAT + PRESSURE, U.S. Army veteran and Tennessee storyteller Ben Weakley explores what it means to have gone to war.​

"In HEAT + PRESSURE, Ben Weakley unpacks memory, pain, loss, and a generational inheritance of war and conflict. These verses attend to the physical of this world with a clear-eyed examination of the self—all in the service of gleaning insight into the messy and layered humanity within us all. While HEAT + PRESSURE traverses the interior and exterior terrains of war, damage, and destruction, these poems are watermarked with tenderness and care—a sure sign that these are poems rooted in the word love."

—Brian Turner, author of Here, Bullet and Phantom Noise

"In tight, considered lines, Ben Weakley reminds us that war—past and present—is a human experience, a rite-of-passage turned horror show that only the few endure, its impact echoing through time [...] Like the blasts he writes about, you will feel these poems reverberate in your being. This is what it's like to go to war."

—Colin D. Halloran, author of Shortly ThereafterAmerican Etiquette, and Icarian Flux


"Ben Weakley's keen eye for details both physical and emotional have enabled him to pen a searing, visceral, and lyrical portrait of the experience of the Global War on Terror. More than that, he explores themes of fatherhood and early middle-age in modern America through the lens of the war's aftermath, illustrating the longevity of its impact with skill, nuance, and heart. HEAT + PRESSURE is an unparalleled collection of poetry that offers its readers the full breadth of the contemporary veteran's experience."

—David P. Ervin, author of Leaving the Wire: An Infantryman's Iraq

"Weakley's poems expertly track the jagged and jarring arc of war. Beginning with boys who play in 'caves of their imagination' and pray to the 'god of manhood.' Duty and fate turns them into soldiers who 'seek enlightenment in dust clouds' and experience the pain and pleasure of the fight. [...] Veterans of all eras will recognize the scents, scenes, and scars that Weakley describes."

—F.S. Blake, author of Terminal Leave,  Above the Gold Fields, and The Few Drops Known

"Weakley's book is framed by the elements needed to turn C-4 explosive from a block of 'Play-Doh' into something that rends metal and incinerates bodies: HEAT + PRESSURE. His poems crackle and stay with the reader for days. A great read!"

—Christopher Lyke, author of The Chicago East India Company

"HEAT + PRESSURE is aptly named. These short poems are combustible, a Molotov cocktail of bearing witness to the inhumanity of war sloshing together with the snippets of how you can end up on the wrong end of a rifle, which is any end of a rifle. This debut collection takes its rightful place on the list of must-read books of war poetry."

- Martin Ott, author of Lessons in Camouflage and The Interrogator's Notebook




Ben Weakley spent fourteen years in the U.S. Army, beginning with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and finishing at a desk inside the Pentagon. He writes poetry and prose about the enduring nature of war and the human experience for veterans, their families, and anyone who would help them bear witness to war and its aftermath. 


A believer in the power of words to empower and heal, Ben leads writing workshops for Active Duty Military, Veterans, their families and caregivers, as well as Frontline Health Care Workers and other communities of ordinary people bearing witness to a difficult world.  

Ben lives in the Tri-Cities of Northeast Tennessee with his wife, two children, and a well-meaning but poorly behaved hound-dog.


Poetry Appears In:

Proud to Be vol10_Cover.jpg


Writing By American Warriors, Volume 10

Southeast Missouri State University Press



Prize-winning Poetry & Prose from the Col. Darron L. Wright Memorial Awards



A Community Building Art Works Anthology


Recent Publications

Cutleaf​ Journal


The Wooden Elephants of Herat (and other poems)


The Afghanistan Poems

The Wrath-Bearing Tree


Two Poems

In Some Distant Country

How Will You Answer

The Line Literary Review

Two Poems

Sunday Morning: The Market in East Rashid

Ode to a Scar

Line of Advance


No Takebacks


Ben is available for readings, public speaking, book clubs, and other engagements. For inquiries and bookings:


  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Instagram
  • Black Twitter Icon


bottom of page