Over There, Over Here

In the partitioned bin that ordered
his wrenches and graduated calipers,
his spring-loaded screwdrivers, angled
needle-nose pliers, my grandfather

stored the saw-toothed bayonet
he’d smuggled back from France
after WWI.  Lean and black, it was
heavy as a jack handle, and sometimes

after supper he’d lift it out, slide it slowly
from its scabbard, jab it and show me
how the Germans screwed it sideways
to yank out your intestines—like a Canuck

cleaning a quickly slitted muskie.  Captured,
they’d sometimes have it done to them, he said,
our doughboys leaving them gutted, a warning
to any Komeraden foolish enough to follow.

All this capping two decades of nurturing
his only son’s death, my uncle, shredded
by machine guns at the Bulge, WWII—
the reason, it turned out, Grandpa had wanted

to crush the Huns for good, back when we could,
a full twenty-five years before his prophecies
of a Reich rising from the Weimar Republic
boomeranged as a special telegram knocking

at their front-porch door.  By ‘64
I was only ten, and Viet Nam, not even
a protest, the first domino we’d never let fall,
Grandpa said, not this goddamn time around.

Alone under the bare bulbs illuminating
Grandpa’s meticulous workbench,
I’d cradle the bayonet, unsheathe it,
and search for blood-and-guts on the blade.

 

 

First published in HEArt Online

 

 

D. R. James

D. R. James has taught college writing, literature, and peace-making for 34 years and lives in the woods near Saugatuck, Michigan. Poems and prose have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies, his latest of eight poetry collections are If god were gentle (Dos Madres Press) and Surreal Expulsion (The Poetry Box), and his microchapbook All Her Jazz is free and downloadable-for-the-folding at the Origami Poems Project. www.amazon.com/author/drjamesauthorpage

 

Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Tuesday, April 2, 2019 - 23:14