a mercenary's tale
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Sketch in Broken Pencil. By cas.



Flower of hemp, ferment of grape,
a hit of chem-lab mescaline that first semester of '69...
...decades, too, of arrow-straight:
Mass in latin, class on time,
jobs not even immigrants would choose,
hours and days of years
polishing boots and buckles,
pinning the medals so,
assembling and disassembling another
magazine-fed, gas-operated individual weapon, model M-16,
capable of automatic or semiautomatic operation
by means of a selector switch
select her switch
select or switch


It's by divine mandate,
not by any goddamned conscious choice of mine,
that I sit in this yard in fading autumn sun,
retired captain, Army of the United States of America,
surrounded by inbred barn cats,
hair down to my elbows
cleaning a .41 magnum single-shot target pistol
and lost in thoughts of the three people I have ever known
who weren't so full of shit that it oozed out their ears
when they nodded their heads in agreement.


It's all here on my business card:
     "Ex-catholic, ex-innocent, ex-crusader, ex-mercenary,
professional underachiever, former Bachelor of Science,
once a PFC, confirmed disbeliever, accomplished reader
of lost and meaningless manuscripts, apprentice human being.
I was sent here to make you nervous"


So look, don't ask me again where my allegiance is.
I've had my fill of hippies, yuppies, lifers, born-agains,
rednecks and generation X'ers.
Titles without meaning I damn these words to hell.


As to what I know for sure,
what good I've seen,
what positive observations I could give
about the state of the world,
of the human condition or of mine -
come share a bowl if you care to know.
I'll grab another liter of home-brewed port and a cigarette.
Give me two hours of peace at the kitchen counter
with John Prine and a fugue by Bach,
a little time to think about it, to laugh it out,
and 45 seconds to write it all down for you.





a line

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