Memorial Day

my neighbor,
his big feet in sneakers,
hobbles as fast as he can
across the street
breathless with news.
his mouth seems huge to me,
he keeps mispronouncing my name
jerking his head up the street
as he almost screams:
John is dead. John killed himself.

now the other neighbors sift from
their houses— shift from foot to foot
one in her striped nightgown stands in the doorway
and keeps saying, a suicide.
a Purple Heart Vietnam Vet,
stands on his maimed legs and tells us,
John’s Death Mission—
for that a man could kill himself—
flying a helicopter
to hunt, ferry the dead, the mutilated

inside I wander aimlessly
from room to room
sit and stare out the windows
see that long summer evening
slowly ending


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