Platte River, CO

From door-shut tall heights
Abrupt and looming
Sundown draws ink bruised shadows over a Sawtooth horizon, zigzagging
across the plains in the old tectonic cut light

The raspy sweet smell of the
Long spring grass and mountain chaparral Perfumed by sage and
Pimpled by daisies and blue milkvetch is Brushed lightly by the
Mountain-fletched wind that was sent soaring down.

It is sweet and has always been.

But the wind, clear, yet light drenched in the deep afternoon hour Shows the old vet
Half wrapped around a shading cottonwood
Fetal in its knoll

At once suckling at his mother’s breast and at the needle
He lays in dissipating opium dreams
His canvas jacket a ragged blanket
Attended by his bags of trash and his wheelchair, uneasily empty now; His lone sentry

By the gliding Platte River

Two weeks of meds for his mind
That burst like a lightbulb, pop
His body blown almost to pieces, tear
Now in tatters, made
numb and tolerable by poppy juice, and hooked He now fights in chemical warfare
A battle line of veins to forget
The wounds made

By machines sent
By men provoked, afeared and sent
By COs sent
By Generals sent
By Other Men, who know the safety
Of their white skin and mahogany brown desks Steeled by group-think and a whiskey cart They sign papers to make men die.
But they are almost blameless, sent
By an electorate that likes their war-drama True Christians of the meat grinder

But the old vet didn’t die, not just then

The inconvenience of caring for what shattered living remains Was guilt-borne, carted back roaring on helicopters and planes Transfused, stitched, paddled back alive
Then cast off, exuviated

Onto the stinging cold pavement eventually To sleep in abandonment by the river Baptized in apathy
A languished Lazarus

Downstream other men whose home is all about them Stare fire-tranced into the Platte,
Pulling faster now,
Drawn sparkle-white across the rocks

Like magnesium fires; their invisible thoughts Mortared quiet by time

Nicolas DeusonComment