Art (That Was His Name)

His glasses focused already small

eyes into vivid blue

streams of energy

they took every

decrepit muscle and

decaying joint and

exploded the joy

his whole body

once had


behind thick, deep


And he told me stories

literally to break the ice

as he worked on icebreakers

in what he called the ‘artic’

and stories where

he saw an atomic bomb

under a canvas sheet

and knew to keep quiet

if he knew what was good for him

but now

these stories


He tipped his coffee so far back

I was certain his back would break

but that spine, it seems, is iron

as is his good raw laughter

“I really enjoyed that,”

he would say

“God, did I love those boats.”

And once he was court-martialed

for pulling his men

out of the cold

they were scraping, scraping

and he was pacing

white-knuckles on

officer’s coffee

hands gripping

the story now

with less strength

but no less


And I saw stories so deep

in his soul

that I wondered

if it wasn’t

his soul

inside his stories

Most remarkable, perhaps

was the girl who

one day he saw

the next day bought her cheap perfume

the next day took her dancing

and ten days later

married her

“And that was sixty-four years ago.”

He stands and that iron spine

shudders purely

from the weight of

glorious stories

he steadies

himself on the chair

and I’ve never seen


look less weak

Some of us flicker out

others burn

he explodes

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