Veterans Day. Or not
By Robert Bohm

Soft purr of woman-breath
on the pillow next to me, the sound
of a slight breeze through
bulrushes by the river. I remember
a story I learned as a kid. A princess
found the baby Moses in a basket
in the bulrushes. The faint rhythm
of my wife’s breath leads me back.

But something tells me, Listen better. I do. Yes, there’s
another sound too, a grating like a metal file cabinet drawer
pushed closed by
a clerk who can’t find what she needs to find. That noise, it’s
the sound of a grunt loading a machine gun. Ok
I can find my way now. A war
built on lies.

I remember a boy, 18 or 19, in
the China Beach evac hospital. Hey Bobby he said to me
I went nuts in country but I’m gettin better. The brass
believed he was faking his crazy. But when one day
his mind came apart like a jackfruit
splattered by weapon fire, wet pulp
flying everywhere, everybody agreed
he was schizo for real. There’s fly larvae
in my leg wound he confided to me
the day prior to getting shipped home. But no
wound or fly larvae existed, except
in his broken mind.
I stared into his foggy
pills-emptied eyes
and said goodbye.

Now I’ve got other wars to think about.
A few frenzied back-to-earth types turned our street
into a garden. Hordes of flowers bloom
everywhere, watered by our tears. Look —
Venus Flytraps here, Black-Eyed-Susans over there, all
sprouting from black corpses killed by cops.
For too many decades the nation’s slain the wrong people, so why
shouldn’t we gaze at the authorities
with hatred in our eyes?

Robert Bohm is a regular contributor to Radius.