Wednesday, August 5, 2015

DB Cox- A Poem

road like a river
--- for four steadfast Marine brothers-in arms (Semper Fidelis)
(this poem was written in 1968, but the music and the dance is still the same)

the bus rolls
up an off-ramp
somewhere near skidmore, missouri
moving toward
the second show of the day
two is nothing new
it’s 1968 & business is good
behind me
the trumpet man
quietly blows "taps"
into his horn
his solo down cold
all heart & soul
all of our moves
in one of the few
dress blue precision

how many miles
have we made
how many hours
riding the blue highways
of tennessee
& missouri
burying fellow Marines
shipped back home
back to the “world”
in flag-draped caskets
courtesy of the k.i.a. travel bureau
unfortunate sons
from pleasantville, tennessee
evening shade, arkansas
skidmore, missouri
who died
in alien-sounding places like:
dak to
my khe
my lai
an loc
mostly grunts
who never lived
to see their twenty-first birthdays
killed by:
automatic weapons
rocket-propelled grenades
booby traps
& “friendly fire”
the military
“euphemism of all euphemisms”

after awhile the dead faces
all start to look the same
all of the essential information
faces pale and shiny
like dime store dolls
beards beginning
to break through the makeup
life sucked out of the eyes
gray-blue fish belly lips

gazing into a coffin
was like looking
into a dark crystal ball
you start to realize
that you might be
catching a glimpse
of your future
if you're around them
long enough
the dead will start to speak
they'll say
put yourself in our place

i would try to shut out
the whole scene
i'd think about crazy things
"roadrunner" cartoons
on a boyhood saturday morning
wile e. coyote catching hell
burnt to ashes
falling from cliffs
squashed flat as a pancake
dynamited into tiny pieces
that hang in the air
for a second
then fall apart like a broken plate
then he's up
& whole again
& back in the game

there were days
i leaned out so far
i almost slipped over the edge
too much time
balanced on a ledge of indifference
making vain attempts
at trying to make sense
of this pointless game
of a thousand cuts
where everything's
always the same
except the face
of the mother
holding "old glory"

sooner or later
you get the picture
something you've
really known all along
ain't nobody
fooling nobody
about where this highway goes
now we understand
that this road
is like a river of black water
pulling us on
farther & faster
all bound for that vanishing point
in the heat-shadowed distance  

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