July 23, 2008

That summer feeling
When there's things to do not because you gotta
When you run for love not because you oughta

J.M.W. Turner, Keelmen Heaving in Coals by Moonlight, 1835

-- by Frances Richey

2 pairs desert camo boots
sleeping bag
assault pack: NODs, ammo, night-vision goggles
wind-stopper gloves

These don’t belong to me.

Camelbak backpack for water
Kevlar helmet
MICH helmet
grenade pouches
magazine pouches

I have no place here. This is not my life.

9-millimeter holster
equipment vest
same old ruck

He can’t bear my worry. Like the rucksack he carries
on his back, it seems
to suck the life out of him.

socks ... green/black
PTs — shorts, shirts for workout
SPEAR silk underwear for cold weather
SPEAR body armor ... ergonomically correct
barracks bag for laundry
rain poncho and linerblack wool cap

I was always asking if he was warm enough.
Put a sweater on, I’d say. Your jacket ...

duffel bag
entrenching tool
elbow pads
Nuclear, Biological, Chemical suit

I can’t protect him.

flu shot

No one could explain his nosebleeds. They always seemed to
come when I was packing
for business trips: Pittsburgh, Chicago, Detroit ...

CDs: Springsteen, Sarah McLachlan, U2 ...
DVDs: "In the Name of the Father," "Boondock Saints," "Elf" ...
chewing tobacco

Tissues fell from him like crumpled doves.

pin light
"Case for Christ"
"Onward Muslim Soldier"
"Salem’s Lot"
"Catcher in the Rye"
laminated four-leaf clover

He tilted his head back, pinched his nose
between thumb and index finger:
"Don’t worry, I know what to do."

Officer Record Brief
Hazardous Duty Orders
Zero Your Weapon

He’s given me his dog-eared copy of Komunyakaa’s
"Neon Vernacular," underlined:
"We can transplant broken hearts/
but can we put goodness back into them?"

Life Insurance: to be split between Mom and Dad
Emergency Records ... who gets called
battalion wants to know what to read
at your funeral, what songs to play

He looks up from the paperwork,
hard into my eyes:
"You said you wanted to know."

-- by Patrick Phillips

Touched by your goodness, I am like
that grand piano we found one night on Willoughby
that someone had smashed and somehow
heaved through an open window.

And you might think by this I mean I'm broken
or abandoned, or unloved. Truth is, I don't
know exactly what I am, any more
than the wreckage in the alley knows
it's a piano, filling with trash and yellow leaves.

Maybe I'm all that's left of what I was.
But touching me, I know, you are the good
breeze blowing across its rusted strings.

What would you call that feeling when the wood,
even with its cracked harp, starts to sing?

Brad Pitt
-- by Aaron Smith

With cotton candy armpits and sugary
Crevices, sweat glazing your donut skin.
Have you ever been fat, Brad?
Have you ever wanted a Snickers
More than love and lain on your bed
While the phone rang and rolled one
On your tongue, afraid to eat it, afraid
It would make your jeans too tight? Have you
Barfed, Brad, because you ate it,
Ate all the take-out, licked
Brown sauce off the box while you sobbed?
Brad Pitt down in the pits chaining menthol
Ciggys in your thick-wallet life,
It’s not so bad Brad, sad Brad, is it?


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