Dead Men Walking
I know a man who has been dead since 1968,
killed jungle fighting in Nam. Funny thing,
he still wears his army helmet with a bullet hole
clean through. I see him walking along the Esplanade,
his long hair dumping out of his helmet, salt and pepper
like his beard. I tell him he's crazy
to park his Camaro on the grass, his ass is going to be towed.
He reaches into his long green backpack, pulls out
our high school yearbook. "Do you remember
Ginnie Kelly?" he says, his voice choking up.
He shows me her picture. I don't remember her.
"I've been talking to her some at night
but she doesn't seem to hear me." "Maybe," I say,
"she doesn't have the power."
My friend pulls two cold Budweisers from his cooler.
We are sitting on the bank of the Charles. I tell him I worry
that the Patriots will stink again this year without Brady,
the Bruins and Celtics have already gone to Hell.
Reaching down, he pulls a football out of his bag. We
throw it around like two kids skipping school on a spring day.
After a while he says he has to get going,
heads back to his car, dragging his backpack behind.
I tell him "Good to see you again.Looks like you lost a little
weight since the last time." He replies
"The Bud Lites are doing the job, I guess."
Hops in the car, flicks on the lights, revs the old 350 V-8,
honks three times and he's out of here.
A few blocks down I've parked my FDNY ambulance.
She's my baby, been driving her since 2001.
I store my medical bag in the back,
put my dust-covered fireman's helmet on the front seat, turn
on the siren and wail out onto Memorial Drive.
(First published in WayWords - 2021)