Friday, November 11, 2011

Two Poems for Veterans Day

For my friends Tom and John, vets of the Vietnam War and Korean War respectively.



-originally published in Red River Review


I walk in the closed cavity

of myself, glancing up

the alley behind Jigs’, the one tavern,

the True Value store, the feed lot,

the grunts amid the heaps,

the flies.

Nothing’s changed.  Maggots

flies flies maggots, angels

descend upon the living and the dead.

What I’ve found here, what calls me here

is a winged, terrible thing, its red mouth

sucking me in secret. With a lift of my foot

I am gone, deep in the war

as if in prayer.


Those Nights In L.A.

-originally published in Triplopia


Nothing but laughter those nights

after we closed the studio

and some of us took the Ten to Ocean Avenue

for a stroll along the beach. Others

drove home to wives, families, the six o’clock news

setting the war down in their living rooms

like a guest who would overstay his visit.

But in the Blue Room, we’d laugh and laugh,

nothing could hurt us. Shots

ran through us like water on hottest days,

and our big mouths roared over small jokes

at the other poor bastards in the world, the fucked up

moments of their lives a cacophony of booze,

Angels’ games, Hendrix, white noise

we romped around on like teenaged children

who’d eaten their virgin to her core, juice

spilling over our lips, and the world crumbling into an emptiness

that grew as silence grows, quietly, tenderly,

to take our breath away. Those nights

I heard boys in other rooms of our house.

I saw their bodies straighten like reeds along a river

then flatten beside us in the paddy.

An awful wind passed.

I was there when Gale Sweet drug his rag across the empty stools

and unplugged the box, but still

the sound of a thunder, ten thousand whispering

and the walls alive, and the television

flashing through the dark like light through the limbs of trees

though I wouldn’t move, wouldn’t make a sound. When sweat dropped

to my thigh with a soft puussssh, I leaned closer. Behind the door,

irregularly, my wife breathed. I closed my eyes.

One inch, then another, breath for breath, I slid away

as though gliding under water, the moon above me, the stars.

In the halogen glow of my garage, jug in hand, I heard her

nice and steady,

then poured life through me like a river.

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