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memorial days

The young couple walks stooped into the retirement home
in a veil of embarrassment.
They are aglow with pity and shame
for the wilting figure to whom they
are obliged to pay
occasional blushing obeisance.
They greet me with a dour nod
as we near each other,
and they regard my mother’s
plastic shower bench with
still more feverish embarrassment,
these perfumed raging idiots.

We enter the Hallowed House of the Aged.
In these hushed halls
the infirm shuffle along
bathed in our consensual pity and fear,
brittle whispering specters with flyaway hair,
scarcely clad in thinning spotted papyrus,
passing gas without compunction and murmuring loudly;
a secret cabal of once and future martini enthusiasts
screwing in the sleeper car on the night train to Boston,
doing a thronged, gin-fueled Lindy Hop before a blaring bandstand,
scrambling up the vertical bullet-riddled cliffs of Omaha Beach,
sprinting down the shattered streets of London
amid a mad fall of rockets,
bicycling 50 km to bring back a loaf of wormy Dutch bread
and thus vanquishing an armored Zarathustra.
They thanked their airborne allies in tulips
when all else had been burned away.

The German children made from the downed pilot’s life vest
flotation devices to hand around
and so taught themselves to swim that summer,
sheltering and feeding the frightened flier in the family home

until he was well enough

to be spirited out from behind enemy lines

by new friends he'd been trained to bomb.
If the pilot yet lives he is a dried leaf and repulses the visitor.
Die deutschen Kinder sind erwachsen
and revel casually in the childhood memory,
beatific to those who are privileged to hear.

Our wrecked nursing home set-asides
once boozily toasted each other by lamplight in embrace-crushed neckties.
They walked around on the fucking moon,

swung a Wilson six-iron there, of course,

lustily ran amok,
lustily handed us everything,
lustily reworked a world
in their own reckless excited image.
We pampered dipshits
dare regard them with downcast eyes

dare feel embarrassment for them.
We’re coherent and clean,
but have little else to recommend us;
pitiable, mouselike, untried and cocksure.
The fragrant incandescent oldsters will be fine.
They’ve already completed with a flourish
what we would never ourselves have the balls to begin.


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