The Many Loves of Soldiers

Talk and talk and smoke,
liquor boasts of war
unmask us
letting slip
blood-stained tears,
quick recovery with
harsh laughs and winks
and more talk
around the deeper silence
around that place and time
we wouldn’t trade
even for one night of unbroken sleep:
we really loved our
fear, that ice pick
slid deep in the throat,
loosing slow
drops of cold bile
congealing until the blush
of taking fire
made us rosy warm
again, at least Charlie
never sent any Dear John
letters;
Saturday afternoons
smoke and Wild Turkey
swaddle war stories -
tongued so many times
they slide out
skin-oil sweaty slick
a long secret string
of worry-beads
until wifey calls
time to go home -
step out, blink fast
in the light
haloing spring fans of soft,
unfolding green leaves
and blossom petals fluttering
into the street
like some kind of Tet
firecracker pieces shooing
away the lesser demons;
damn, someone’s lit a fire
cheating us
out of here and now
with that lush, woody scent
smoky like the villes
at dusk winking into light, one
hut after another
how we loved that
time of sooty thrills
obliged only
to walk away intact.

Constance Lee Menefee
Copyright 2000