The Names

Nicknames slip out
slotted tongues
then nothing but
faint aftertaste
of seeping pennies:
Mooch, Jungle, Zap,
Moon Doggie,
Big, Little,
Hog, Doc,
Southie, Frenchy,
Hawk, Mac
we were all together
in the mud
remember the clots of
mud around rice seedlings
when they ripped
us from the treeline -
the mud throttled
us and glued our eyelids,
stiffened just like cooling
drying blood
on nicknamed skin;
youre all right here
so close your breath tickles
hackle hairs whenever
a chopper chatters over
and I know Ive seen you
in the Stop n Shop
buying aspirin and beer;
last week I think your
old pickup peeled past
me, I tried to wave
but my hand was mud
and you sped
out of my life before
I knew it, again.

Constance Lee Menefee
Copyright 2000