Ludwig Van Beethoven

loved vibrations of sound,

and wouldn’t turn around

when the music ended.

He couldn’t hear the applause.

Tinnitus deprived us both

of our passion for music.

Napoleon’s bombardment

of Vienna made him deaf.

Howitzers rumbled my bowels,

blowing out my ear drums

while guarding the border

at Pan Mun Jon in ‘53.


I look at spots on my hand

and see a hand that’s still me.

My fingers move nimbly

on a silver Selmer trumpet

I no longer play every day.

Now the face in the mirror

looks more like my father

than the person I used to be.

My body is like a withered,

oak tree with dead leaves

that rattle in the wind,

ready to fall in the next

severe weather storm.

I once split logs before the cold finger

of winter could freeze my toes

and snatch me into icy oblivion.

A single whack was all it took.