34 YEARS AFTER
It is so damn dark.
If I were back along the river
Or in the fields of my Uncle’s farm
The night sky would be ablaze…
But here, the trees hide the sky.
And the night here
Is not for sweaty trysts
Of young bodies
Exploring delightfully sharp
And resonating pleasures
Of the flesh…
The nights here
Seek to rend the flesh.
A year ago, I was a senior… Class of ‘68…
Top 10 in my class… a horticulturist… a dreamer…
A sci-fi/horror fan…
Looking at the night sky then
I could see the bright speck of the Howard Family’s
Escape in a stolen starship…
Other times I was sure the flashes of summer lightning
Were the Mule’s warships engaging
The Foundation’s Navy…
And many times, we knew that the half seen
Silhouette of the water tower
North of town
Was an approaching Martian Tripod
Bent on destruction.
I know longer know that person.
I am no longer he… never will be again.
Yesterday, we got hit hard.
Four in my squad are gone now…
ChiTown Rick, who could run like the wind,
Will never run again.
Pedro, the kicker, will never scissor kick
A soccer ball again.
Tread, the pointman… his perfect body
Finely carved it seemed from mahogany,
Laying wide eyed and silent
Trying to hold in his insides.
Kentucky, handsome, cocky, asking over
And over… Am I alive? Am I alive?
The night is so damn dark.
I look up from my pad and the stream
Of memory breaks, flying off into the darkness
Trailing behind faces, voices and smells
From so long ago.
A part of me asks…
Why in the hell do you do this?
Why open that can of worms? For whom are you writing?
I can’t rightly answer.
Maybe for me.
I reach across, snag a cigarette, light it…
Unconsciously, I cup it… old habit die-hard.
My eyes drift down to the desk calendar.
The 4th of July is fast approaching.
I have not enjoyed the 4th since ‘68.
While others plan bar-b-ques and picnics
And sit snuggled together
Going ohhhh and ahhhhh at fireworks,
I close myself away…
The sharp cracks of Black Cats and M80’s,
The distant boom of fireworks, the acrid odor
Do nothing but evoke memories
I wish I never had.
My throat closes then…
My breath begins to hitch
In my chest.
Quietly I go into the bathroom, strip,
Turn on the shower, steaming hot
And step beneath it…
Only here can I cry,
Deep, ragged sobs
That the shower will muffle…
That will wash away the tears…
I wish to God
It could wash away the pain.
©Copyright 2004 by E.W. Richardson