WAR

Before a war we think we know
exactly how the war will go.
Accountants happily project
raised GDP and its effect.
Predict each country will adopt 
a free economy and co-opt democracy 
who’ll bloom just like a desert rose
but that is never how it goes.

During war the News Hour lists
each soldier whose return is missed
and the places they called home,
a soldier’s life reduced to loam.
No locals named, not friend nor foe
who is who? How can we know?
The war drags on, a swamp, a mire  
repeating tours, souls under fire.

It’s forgotten once we start
wars pay for nothing not a part
of their pile of pain and loss
yet we ignore the total cost.
Lives, limbs and minds are left behind.  
We're told the same lies every time.
The goals and actions are a fake
leave ravaged landscape in their wake.

Once home, our soldiers dream the war
and wonder what it all was for.

100 QUESTIONS

A hundred questions 
cross my mind
	What was that song dad used to hum?
	What college did my mom attend?
	Where did Aunt Marge’s friend come from?
I failed to ask
	or make a note
	of many things 
	while they were here
	just within reach
        alive and near.

A hundred questions
cross my mind
              About Dad’s mom
              who died so young.
              I’ve no idea what she died from.

My favorite stories too are gone
               The battleship
               for whom Dad played
               Hail to the Queen
               a serenade.
               
               Salts stood attention at the rail
               Dad asked them down to 
               drink and sail.
	       He went onboard to drink instead.

These questions come
at oddest times
	  Old photos with the names now gone
          A tune, a food, a place, a song
          I wonder and will wonder long.               
	     
               

LOVING AND LOSING

Loving you prepared me for Walmart
where greeters are friendly but the merchandise
is made by strangers in dark, distant rooms.
 
Losing you prepared me for Reductions in Force
Being told “You’ve worked hard. This isn’t personal. 
It’s about stock price.”
 
Watching you leave broke me like an egg
Nothing I knew was true – zip – zero – nada.
I must start again from the beginning.
 
Starting over prepared me for God,
who waited at the still bottom of a life 
emptied of passion, distraction and theory.
 

SMALL ABANDONMENTS AND LEAVE TAKINGS 

I thought elephants danced in the car
as my aunt clasped me, age two with pneumonia
and mom drove to hospital – I screamed when they
left so the doctors forbade future visits.
I was alone with nurses and needles
for two long white weeks.

Pat left me tied, age five, to a phone pole.
She didn’t do it. Gerard and his buddies did
but my sister, my protector, walked away
left me bound ‘til dinnertime alone
next to the street, a kindergartener
in suspenders and red Keds.

In 9th grade, Sandi broke up with Tom.
He asked me out – the blond boy of my dreams!
Sandi coached me for a week on
dancing, clothes and French kissing.
Then, outside Grunnings, his friends laughed,
teased me – the date was a joke. Didn’t I get it?

Jamie had a sister – institutionalized.
I had no brother. We were siblings for each other.
I felt safer with him than anyplace I know.
He married young, grandson by 52. A mole grew.
Jamie, who could corral whole rooms with laughter,
called one afternoon to say he did not feel
like he was dying. But he did.

Glenn “with two n’s, like Glenn Miller”
had wave blue eyes I swam in.
Knew me better than I knew myself.
Is married now to someone else.
He called to make amends –
apologize for choices he knew better than.
Said he loves me still – he always will.

I saw the color fall from mom’s face.
“She’s going!” I said.
Pat and I grasped her hands.
“Our Father, who art in Heaven
Hallowed be Thy name.”
This is it. So gentle.
Then gone. Her final gift to us.
Death, fearless, light as air.