It was the bloodiest year of the war,
a dark hour when blackout papers
covered our windows and the world
fought to regain its soul.

Historic times, father would say.
I kept a scrapbook of news of the war
gathered from newspapers,
Life and Look magazine

Father hummed Smoke gets in your eyes.
Clouds of Lucky Strike
wafted in front of his peering eyes.
He urged me to smile for a photo
taken with his pullout camera.

He planned to paste my picture
on the cover of my collection,
but I was too filled with dread
to garner a genuine grin

as I stood before the lone peach tree
in his Victory garden in my Rogers Peet suit,
embracing my silver Selmer trumpet
that I tried to play with the radiant
sweet tone of Harry James.

How could I smile as I catalogued slaughter:
The inhumanity of the Hun
and brutality of the foe
from the land of the rising sun.

As I wistfully gazed at our garage,
empty of our 41 Desoto,
a casualty of gas rationing for the war effort,
I nervously fingered the triple-tongue passage
from the “Carnival of Venice.”