Monthly Archives: May 2014

Honor

Maybe it was the work
at the refineries
breathing crude
so we could drive
to get milk down the street

Maybe it was the exposure
upon exposure
they swore it was safe
because nuclear power plants
are critical for…

Maybe it was the
underwater welding
on Navy ships, valiant,
for the war effort
(don’t forget your patriotism, kids)

Maybe it was the agent orange
three years in Vietnam
Uncle Sam admits now, oops
but hey, we’ll bury you
for free

Maybe it was the 40 years of nicotine
the 20 years of whiskey
to function, to forget
both fought, both defeated

Or maybe it was
the pre-dawn fishing trips
with sons he adored

Or the calloused fingers from
hard work and guitar strings

Or barbecues, or laughter, or toys
or being surrounded by
every neighborhood kid in
a three-block radius

Or the hugs from his grandchildren,
his treasures, his prizes
for all he battled
all he endured
right up to the skeletal end

Never absent
a burst of a smile,
eyes as bright and sparkling,
deep as the Pacific

I trace tendons
on his hand, bones
prominent, eyebrows absent
he sleeps and sleeps

Maybe it was everything, nothing
and just a heart so full
of joy, of love
that he survived all that came
before.