Country Music

Charley Pride on bathroom
laptop, while I shave, his voice
forlorn longing, whiskers
collect on razor’s edge, this
morning mirror apart from wife
and son. I feel for Merle Haggard,
travails, time on the road, love
found and lost, like Loretta Lynn
in Topeka, daydreaming of that
different life, away from crumpled
hamper laundry and the last
cereal bowl bits clinging to old
milk. Somewhere in Nashville
they are still singing with Jesus,
waiting for my return.

Born During Vietnam

I was born in 1972
when the drafted were
fragging officers, rolling
grenades under cots,
because going on patrol
was pointless.

Raised by teachers who
listened to Joan Baez,
had us play earth ball. That
world was better than agent
orange cancer, napalm blasts,
M-16 bullets and exit wounds.

They spoke of peace,
harmony, we held hands
and sang so many songs.
This land is made for
you and me, and it’s
alright to cry.

In the closet I still saw
my dad’s green Marine hat
that he wore on Veteran’s Day.
We never spoke about the war,
what to say to a ten-year old
kid about sand bags, and
hearing loss?

But he took me to the
memorial, we touched
names, our dark shadows
together in the wall.