Memorial Day: A Poem by Christopher Pascale



A light breeze comes in off the coast
gently gusting as the rocky sand gives
way with each step while the water laps
in as gently as the gusting breeze,
leading one to believe that all must
surely be in harmony.

And then I crush a horseshoe crab
under the blow of my bare foot for
no other reason than that she is weak
and I am strong.

Fifty paces out I see a couple coming
toward me, holding hands, and we smile and
wave at each other. Then they see my
shirt that says USMC and say
Happy Memorial Day
and move on never to be seen again
like those who this day is for.

Happy Memorial Day
I can’t find anything happy about it.
We were all true believers who
thought that surely the son of multi
generations of wealth and power
wouldn’t fuck us so hard and
skillfully simply for his own amusement
just because we were weak
and he was strong.

But he did, and we loved it.
As we approached our climax, he
pulled off his red, white, and blue
condom, unsheathing Old Glory,
and discarding such colors, and being
such lovers we loved him more
for it as we could feel his pleasure,
and we desired to please him.

Then, right as he came—with us
only a half-step behind—he whispered
in our ear
I have AIDS
and he does have AIDS. That’s what
this war is, our AIDS virus, and
it claims us a few at a time with
every interval, leaving our bodies
strewn about by the thousands
to be assembled in a line of
flag draped coffins well known
to be pauper’s graves.

In the wake of our destruction is
the debris of all the widows
and widowers and half orphaned children
who love us all so much,
but all they are left with are
the memories painted brighter by our
absence, making us more than we
ever were, and misleading them as
we were misled.

And just as our belief and fire
and passion brought us to our
destruction, their way is doomed to
follow ours, and they, too,
will have AIDS

Happy Memorial Day.

Christopher Pascale is an accountant and former US Marine from Long Island.



Poems curated by FORTH poetry editors.

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