August 11, 2003

LINES ON HIS THIRTIETH BIRTHDAY
--Everette Maddox (1945-1989)

On a hill high above
the mild October day
I stand, heroic, hands
clasped behind my back,
as the last musket's
crack fades
and the smoke drifts away
from the place where the famous
Battle of my Youth was fought.

Who won? Who lost?
Who knows? My speech,
which I seem to have misplaced,
tells. Oh well:
myself and loves and grey
uniform were not among
the casualties, quite; though
a gold button dangles.

Now we'll bind the wounds,
free the slaves, and set up
(oh shrewdly!) a shrine
in the decaying mansion
of my body: post cards,
stuffed possums, and, out back,
whisky to be sold
such emissaries
from the glacial future
as have coin to spend.

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