I’ve been waiting for one of those nine bare-breasted sisters to land by my side and inspire a sonnet...
Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists
driven time and again off course.
Homer, The Odyssey
I’ve been waiting for one of those nine bare-
breasted sisters to land by my side and inspire
a sonnet, but when I sit down to write, I’m visited
by vets from a demolished VA hospital, man-breasted
brothers in arms from Nam, Korea, and WWII
dressed in brown seersucker johnnies, sporting
cirrhosis-bloated bellies, hemorrhaged varicosities,
air hungry, oxygen-pronged men who steal away
to smoke Camels and Kents. They’re blind
diabetics with pulseless feet, alcoholics in withdrawal
who don’t know the date or the D-Day president,
who sport gangrenous toes, purple puncture wounds,
bodily fluids in every color of an oil-slick rainbow.
Marooned in beds far from family and friends,
they sing stories about their twists and turns when
driven off course by Pentagon brass, my clipboard
like Calliope’s tablet cradled in my lap, their songs
shaping me with every word.