Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Prisoners of War

My brother disappeared in the
Jersey Pine Barrens with
a draft notice & an M16.

Two years later he reappeared
waving a handful of combat dollars
& driving a red sports car.

He disappeared again at our father's grave
between the Lord's Prayer & the bagpiper.
I haven't seen him since, although
his voice  was loud & clear
when we gathered his excuses
on our sister's wedding day:

His car doesn't work, he slept late,
his cats are sick, he stopped drinking,
he forgot to buy a present,
he's o.k., there's nothing he wants
from us, why should he bother
showing up for anything? his ex-girlfriend
is taking him to court for assault,
he says our sister was wrong
living briefly with her fiance
with her kids in the new house.

Our mother places a Gold Star in her window,
her body shriveling like an old gourd,
as she rattles the ice cubes in her glass,
a signal for more scotch,
while she watches golf on television
& knits body bags for her sock puppets.
Somewhere my brother is alive.

© Bob Rixon


Poem from later '80s. Read it in public many times, but unpublished.
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"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

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