Sunset Concert at the Custom House in Charleston
Kudos to whoever thought to plan it:
To the right of the roof was a bright planet,
Venus, low in the western sky but high
enough to stand out among the stars nearby.
As the orchestra played pieces people love,
the sky darkened until directly above
appeared something I had to keep my eye on,
the stunning constellation Orion.
There is nothing like music at the end of the day
played so sonorously under the Milky Way.
Sounds like thunder and sweep of angel wings
incite applause and nods to the god of good things.
Weaned on War
Born in 1939, the fateful year the hateful
failed artist from Austria turned despot
ordered armored legions east and Poland fell
faster than the leaves of autumn in Hell,
I was weaned on World War II.
I grew up inspired by and wishing I’d
been one of the Greatest Generation.
Even so, as gung-ho as I would’ve been, filled
with outrage, fiercely if not fanatically patriotic,
I know I could’ve been killed instantly
in the Anzio, Iwo Jima, or Normandy landings,
or had my balls blown off in the Battle of the Bulge,
or torpedoed off Iceland in the murky North Atlantic,
kamikazed somewhere in the waste of the South Pacific
—and after eight bells given a quintessential burial at sea.
Conversely, I could’ve come home bedecked with medals
for having killed enough emissaries of the enemy
—some of them, perhaps, coerced into complicity,
but all pejoratively called in pre-PC days “Japs,” “Krauts”
—to leave me with PTSD ever after.
The Good Vet
expresses empathy with kindly
blue eyes but denies me the comfort
of hearing my beloved old corgi could be stabilized
by the most potent drugs available or any kind of surgery.
Intervertebral disc disease, she says,
is common with aging corgis, bred to be
short enough to avoid the swift kicks of cattle,
yet agile, fast enough to fulfill their herding instinct.
Sympathetic, sensing I’m about to cry,
she says we could try acupuncture,
and I leap at what may well be
a last hope for any corgi.
Soon, there is the first treatment,
long needles penetrating his haunches,
with two more, two weeks apart, to follow.
Even so, just too few days later, I must return him
to the good vet—no, not for acupuncture again,
but, alas, another kind of needle, one she says
will make easy for him, though not for me,
his journey over the Rainbow.