Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Pede, 1934-1979



    Someone might call and ask
    What Pede did in years
    Past, or he might timidly
    Not.  I could write in
    Readiness with whatever I
    Remember happening
    But it will be faint,

    A dim recollection
    Without time or reference:
    We often walked
    Miles or rode the bus
    To Long Beach and
    The Pike.  No one ever
    Bothered us having nothing

    Anyone wanted and being
    Of no interest which was
    An excellent cover for our
    Slips and slides, hiding out of
    The way.  I’ll describe the musty
    Rumblings and of heat induced
    Mirages almost finding us out.


    The shimmering other end of the grinder
    Was the goal, the lesson our DI
    Taught and the two sent there to
    Find the swatted fly became
    Indistinguishable from all the other
    Waves of heat hovering in the
    Transparent river.  We with our

    Blinking watering eyes could but
    Watch.  They would find a proper fly
    And bring it back in its black box for
    The proper Marine Corps burial, killed as
    The DI said in performance of its
    Duty as we were expected to
    In the same way if a day

    Like this one when heat
    Erupted in gunfire or bomb
    Blasts, and we who have
    Lasted think back at the
    Times we might have stumbled
    And not even seen the
    Black box that carried us.


    He sat atop the popcorn
    Machine to watch the fight,
    Complaining later of the melee.
    It was toppled, the machine with him
    On board.  Moderately bruised
    And bloody I later listened as
    I Always did to his view

    Of what occurred: Walter
    Knocking aside the stick that
    Hit him, my laughing, the
    Challenge and all that happened
    Out behind the cafeteria.  He
    Though was of milder stuff;
    Yet all my talk of the Marines

    Got him thinking he needed
    To prove himself to himself.
    Life atop a popcorn machine
    While his best friend outnumbered
    Ten to one was beaten
    Chafed until he sought the
    Recruiter with trembling steps.


    A fair-skinned Dane on a Californian
    Sea, on a boat he built and sailed
    Not far from shore, heeling
    Over, catching the sun and sea
    On his fair forehead, setting store
    On what was made with his two hands,
    He held the tiller and main-sail sheet

    Tight in the slight chop
    And fifteen knots of wind,
    But if one watches the sun
    Another hour, there
    Will be a freshening, a
    Singing in the shrouds
    And trembling in the stays.

    He used no anchor,
    Sailing with great care up
    To the dock, sometimes losing
    His temper when the timing
    Was off, the sea out of key,
    The grating scrape of the bow
    On barnacles black as the deep sea.


    He wouldn’t make less of life
    In the face of death, rising
    As he did sun-burned and ruddy
    From a porch to look out
    At the gentle sloshing of waves
    Upon the sand.  He’d go
    Out each day to swim.

    Free-diving as I began anew,
    Well settled and with the time,
    I sought him out but he declined.
    The photo he sent me in Korea,
    Kneeling before speared-fish
    Had passed.  He smiled,
    Lifted his glass as he recalled.

    How could the look of death
    Make any less of that?
    Kierkegaard for anxiety and
    Dickinson in a nut shell.  Hell
    Held no terror.  His attention
    Drifted back to his curtain now
    Fluttering in a freshening breeze.


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