BROTHER

The night he came back tipsy
he told me he enlisted,
but I never knew
why he did anything so crazy as joining
during a war.

On a field in Evanston
a marching band practiced
that old drinking tune
British men slurred into
song late at night until last call,
when Key stamped on the American seal.
Its belligerent melody,
those first three stumbling articulations,
TEE ta-TA
and the band dropped their horns
like shot glasses, chaserless.

“You can’t miss a note in the anthem!”

Near a desert inside Afghanistan
my brother sunbathes
with self-serving life
-long friends by his side,
a bottle of suds in his hand,
and little bullets of sweat streaking
down his body as he reads a
letter I wrote weeks ago.
Before I read his response,
I let it ferment
for a few days.
It goes down better that way.

The kids marching that day
were practicing The Banner
when The Towers were hit.
They hurried inside and watched
in silence all morning;
now we’re drilled to perfection
each year for those kids,
TEE ta-TA again and again.
One more indignant TEE ta-TA!

Marching band, please play me
that drinking song one more time –
each rendition is another round,
and maybe getting drunk
off these notes will explain
why he left
before the two of us
had a drink together.

The night he came back tipsy
he told me he enlisted,
but I never knew
why he did anything so crazy as joining
during a war.

On a field in Evanston
a marching band practiced
that old drinking tune
British men slurred into
song late at night until last call,
when Key stamped on the American seal.
Its belligerent melody,
those first three stumbling articulations,
TEE ta-TA
and the band dropped their horns
like shot glasses, chaserless.

“You can’t miss a note in the anthem!”

Near a desert inside Afghanistan
my brother sunbathes
with self-serving life
-long friends by his side,
a bottle of suds in his hand,
and little bullets of sweat streaking
down his body as he reads a
letter I wrote weeks ago.
Before I read his response,
I let it ferment
for a few days.
It goes down better that way.

The kids marching that day
were practicing The Banner
when The Towers were hit.
They hurried inside and watched
in silence all morning;
now we’re drilled to perfection
each year for those kids,
TEE ta-TA again and again.
One more indignant TEE ta-TA!

Marching band, please play me
that drinking song one more time –
each rendition is another round,
and maybe getting drunk
off these notes will explain
why he left
before the two of us
had a drink together.