We hummed sad songs like prophecy,
the bitter truth of tunes by Patsy Cline
and Hank and a Lubbock boy named Buddy Holly.
After each song, applause, then swaggering back
to tables and deerskin chairs, boys who rode bulls
sharing a keg with women locked in our arms,
all four lovely as each other, lucky for us,
fist fights the last thing we needed before the draft.
All night, we told the old lies loud, knowing enough
to hold them tight, ignoring the war we were bound for.
Now, I sit here with Carol in middle age, dropping coins
in a jukebox, songs for heroes by singers dead
like Patsy and Hank and Buddy Hollyfor Oscar
dead in Kansas, for Ray who drives a cab in Dallas,
for Harper's name in Washington on a wall.
previously published in Crossroads 3.1 (1994/1995). 1379