Smokes

It’s a matter of timing, you see,
Whether one survives. Survival is
Related to whether one zigs, or zags,
Or pirouettes perfectly, or just
Hunkers down at
Exactly the right instant
By accident.
You take Jimbo, for instance.
Thirty-five years ago a pack of cigarettes
Cost eleven cents in the Ship’s Store
Outside CONUS.
That’s a buck ten a carton,
Any brand you like.
Lucky Strike was the favorite,
Short, sweet, harsh.
Pall Mall was a coffin nail,
Second only to king Camel –
Shredded bullshit –
Smoked only by the bravest.
No one smoked filter tips,
Which were for pussies;

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Bud

The day that Billy died, I stole his last beer.

Angela brought word on Monday morning that Billy’s patrol car was found the night before, greasy side up in a dry irrigation ditch, with Billy in full uniform, blue and dead and cold.

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Jack Duty

A millennium hence the Lord tours his dominions,
Querying, probing, pondering opinions
Harvested from hearts He esteems

Well, regarding vital matters: the sprouting of seeds,
The colors of comets, the assessment of mortal deeds…
Turning then, it seems,

To consult a merry soul, He listens closely
to counsel well rooted in a lifetime of service, while mostly
All of heaven patiently lingers.

Weighing advice reverently tendered,
The Lord tarries, laughs at pithy accounts rendered
Parcel to sage fare, then fingers

Lovingly the soul, and carries on his way.
May He grant that I am there on that day.

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denouement

(for Michael Koop)

Grandma died suddenly and crushed us kids,
Who were unprepared for
The staggering loss
That old people and families manage so well.

The Family stumbled.
Things were said
That echo faintly,
Even now.

But Family is family,
Which is why
Grandma is a sweet memory,
Not a bitter one.

It seems to me that your Family did it right,
Gathering,
And your tears seem
Much of denouement,

Less of loss.
Family is family, and your loss is
Near to mine.
So I didn’t go.

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On the Death of Your Father

(for John Swenning)

Enchanted – listening there to subterranean conflicts of love,
Lad and Dad, dark echoes of me and my old man.

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