Private Kappalman’s Purple Heart (for my grandfather)
France’s sky is low today.
Say, eight feet of black smoke off the
sand — where squirming bodies cover
the sand, the field; broken brick in the cities.
Had ol’ Patton
seen this, he’d a-just shrugged and
shouted some order:
“Set up more barbed wire! Dig a trench, boys!”
Or, that would be left for
the lesser-ranking brass.
There’s a sharp hunk of metal in
my back. I’ll just lay here (in the exploded bunker) with poor
Mantia’s blood on my face; my
eyes wide-open — pretending to be a corpse.
Count Basie plays on
the gramophone. Ah, heck, I
don’t care what, just to be slow
dancing and comfortable
in each other’s arms, at your parent’s place
in Manhattan…her holy hell
Levin and Grossman are sore with me for
not shootin’ stick with them in
Washington Heights. I could drink three
cold ones and still hussle those
schmucks; but I just wanted to
be with you tonight.
…”Amerikaner. Hut! Lebend oder gestorben?!”
says a babyface dressed in greyish green.
No one hears but me; he kicks me
with his right jackboot. I’m looking right at this
Nazi kid—his eagle badge is shiny,
silver and crooked. He sniffs his
nose twice and walks
off to the next body.
Stay down, boychik; dream about
her and wait for help to come.
Drops of dirt, sweat and blood roll into
my eyes. I’m going home, but
a lot of these men ain’t.