American't Get Home

Each night,
I'm greeted by the heart-burned cocktail
I take the cup and reluctantly sip
as stomach acid slowly creeps upward,
stinging the walls of my throat,
causing my gums to swell,
rotting my teeth

The fear is on my breath,
I know it's there because
I can smell it rise past my nostrils
Fear. Stress. Anger.
Psychological warfare
upon the soft American mind
that rests upon strong shoulders
and a barreled chest painted red, white, black and blue

My buddy, Joe Purtill, at Kelly's Pub
dug for three weeks at ground zHero,
an ironworker-turned-trench-warfare grunt,
sculptured good looks
now weathered by thoughts of
serrated concrete, twisted steel and spinal columns,
He found no survivors, only broken flesh
and the disjointed terror of a workday gone mad

James by the jukebox says not to worry,
'don't let it bring me down',
but the beer won't cool the fire in my belly,
nor the pain in young-widow Mary's heart

I see the boys with their guns
getting ready for Armageddon,
their frowns pushed in place
by cruel fingertips of revenge
and I'm stuck between a bleeding
heart and dripping sword

If peace were gold
it wouldn't be so hard to sell,
but, while the consensus here in hell
is 'best be ready than dead'
some wait in the wings
for next week's denial to sing,
but I'm just walking cautiously
with a stick not-so-heavy
as my heart by my side

I'm trying hard
to pry the box beneath my ribs,
let the light inside,
talk of peace and love falls like
raindrops into a hot pot;
dissolved forever

Peace exists only when we are free
but right now, shock gives in to grief
and prayer becomes an only hope
and an only option

copyright 2001, Frank Messina

Next Poem

Main Poetry Index