A Korean War vet tramps around
having P.T.S. flashbacks of being butt scrunched
in blood and piss soaked khakis as a moving carpet
of howling, bugle blowing Chinese attacks,
officers screaming like women as he bellows
to an exploding sky: will the next bullet have my name?
Now, a peripatetic dog walker yanked about
by an amber-eyed Weimaraner reflecting on the fate
of neighbors, some who suffered sorrow
and misfortune, others unscathed, resonate
with good luck, fame and the glow of success.
He grieves for victims as he passes their homes:
a couple down the block who were blown across
the street when they returned from vacation,
discovering a gas leak when they clicked on the light,
a science editor on Glenwood who tinkered
with snow on a T.V., a screwdriver delivering
a fatal shock for his young kids to witness,
the brother on Sylvan who drove off in a hurry
dragging his sister like Isadora Duncan
to a tragically premature death and the mad cobbler
of a non-descript house, murdering a nurse
who just happened to visit on a cold January afternoon.
His melancholy fades as he passes the French Provincial
house built by Harold Urey with Nobel prize money
won for discovering the hydrogen isotope,
can’t stop smiling when he walks by the home
of Captain Hawkeye Pierce, belly laughs seeping out
of the eaves; domiciles that sheltered gifted writers, gaining literary
acclaim, Robert Ludlum’s tales of espionage and betrayal,
Robin Cook’s novels of forensic pathology and genes gone awry.
He jauntily strolls by the colonial Cole-Boyd house with 75
varieties of Iris, musing on painters who gathered
since the art colony evolved many years ago.
Returning home under the shade of century old maple and oak
trees he feels no Schadenfreude for the luckless casualties of his town.
Nothing is safe, everyone has some kind of brickbat with their name
on it through “this bank and shoal of time.”
Milton P. Ehrlich