Don't let them kid you
The mind no fool like the movies,
doesn't wait for flash or screech,
but moves of its own accord,
even hears the slight
bump the mortars make
as they kiss the tube good-bye.
Then the furious rain,
a fist driving home a message:
"Boy, you don't belong here."
On good nights they walk them in.
You wait for them to fall,
stomach pinned so tight to ground
you might feel a woman's foot
pace a kitchen floor in Brownsville;
the hushed fall of a man lost
in a corn field in Michigan;
a young girl's finger trace
her love's name on a beach on Cape Cod.
But then the air is sucked
straight up off the jungle
floor and the entire weight
of Jupiter and her moons
presses down on the back of a knee.
In a moment, it's over.
But it takes a lifetime to recover,
let out the last breath
you took as you dove.
This is why you'll see them sometimes,
in malls, men and women off in corners:
the ways they stare through windows in silence.
Kevin Bowen, Playing Basketball with the Viet Cong, Curbstone Press, 1995.