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Mission, Late March, 1960

ISSUE:  Spring 1998
On a night like this my brother
and I would roam like wild dogs
down Main Street and Remsen Boulevard,
knocking over cardboard boxes
the white-shirted managers
of J. C. Penney’s and Woolworth’s
dragged out before locking up,
the drugstores the best,
with their blue and yellow pills,
their plastic bags and vials,
long ribbons of gauze we’d bandage
ourselves with, then limp to our room
to synchronize our watches
and repeat the rendezvous point
where we’d meet when the enemy
got too close.

         Look at us
as we mount the stairs with clumped
feet and stumps for hands.
Try to see our eyes wrapped tight
behind layers that will not
let in a single ray of light.
We’ve swallowed all the pills
and gone back for more,

we’ve outrun a police car,
an old man with a cane,
and one shooting star that flashed
over Desormau’s Packing Plant so brilliantly
we almost stopped, we almost took it for a sign,
but we had a mission to fulfill, a duty
to get back and write in secret code
everything we saw, everything we knew.


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