“We need your bulging biceps to haul a urinal
to Burning Man. It’s big as a zeppelin,
and gold as a Kruggerand.
It’s made out of paper mache.”

I awaken from a dream, gaze at a mirror
and see father’s crying face,
looking much older than when he died.

I try to say I’m no longer strong as Antaeus
but no words will leave my mouth.
My soul still speaks and hasn’t forgotten
how to be generous and kind.

On this last season of my life
I live on verenikas and cucumber borscht.
I scan my potbelly, mutinous arms and spindly legs,
my body is weary to death of my mischievous brain.

I’m worn-out and haggard as when I soldiered at Fort Dix,
straggling at the tail end of a forced march,
prodded by imagined Niponese bayonets,
on the road from Bataan to Corregidor.

We dug fox holes in drenching rain,
bivouwacking in poison ivy sand.
I scratch and scratch and scratch,
trying in vain to remember who I am.

Milton P. Ehrlich