REUNION

Posted: April 10, 2014 in Poetry, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

Sailorz 001

PREPARING FOR THE REUNION

This will be strange.
Forty-six years after
Giving my last salute
On the quarterdeck,
I am embarking
On a road cruise
Back to the scene
Of many crimes –
A reunion with shipmates
Far removed from the
Liberty calls of our youth.

What should I pack?
And what should
I leave behind?

Old pictures, for sure;
Salty sailors on the fantail
Sipping coffee,
Sharing the scuttlebutt;
Rum and coke sodden smiles
Grouped around a bottle-laden
Table at the Lucky Seven,
The warm tropical air
Of Old San Juan
Still soothes my soul.

And look, here’s a picture
Of me astride a pony
In a Panama City park,
Taken the same day
During a train ride back
To the ship when one of
Our drunken crew
Showed us how the whore
At some mildewed club
Showed us how to
Smoke a cigarette with her ass
And we pushed him
Into the next car, filled
With officers and
Panamanian locals.

I might also take
The two pieces of my uniform
That survived the years.
The stained white short-sleeved blouse
(we didn’t call the shirts)
I wore on liberty –
A good two sizes too small
For me now –
And the shiny silver ship’s
Belt buckle I still
Wear with my jeans.

But what should I share
About the after-life?

Would they be offended
By my anti-war work?
The 36-year adventure
As a journalist, the last
Nineteen covering
The misdeeds of American
Servicemen on the islands
Of Guam and Okinawa?

I’m not sure.

And maybe I should
Omit the stories of the Glebe,
Communal days in Northern Virginia,
LSD parties in the pasture,
Scaring the cattle and
Daffodil, my goat.
I am sure tales of the broken
Marriage and custody wars,
The frustrated years
Raising preschool kids
On my own, and the joyous
Later times spoiling
Their children, would ring
Familiar bells.

But I wonder what they’d think
Of open mic poetry nights
In the Gate Two Street bars
Outside the sprawling air base
On Okinawa?
(I did write poems back
In the sailing days,
But shared them
With a select few.)

I don’t know,
It’s hard to say how
This reunion will play out.
Will it reunite, rekindle
Old friendships?
Or underline why we
All went our separate,
Different ways,
Once I left the Grey Lady,
Striding down the gangplank,
Seabag over my shoulder,
Smiling as the quarterdeck bell
Rang and the Officer of the Deck
Proclaimed, “David Allen,
Departing.”

By David Allen
February 2014

NOTE: This is a poem I wrote when Last Stanza leader Jenny Anderson Kalahar said we should get ready to resume our biweekly poetry meetings and suggested we write a poem about reunions — since Last Stanza has been on a one-year hiatus, primarily due to my confrontation with cancer. We haven’t set meeting dates yet, but here’s my poem.

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