Two Poems by Len Kuntz

Veteran

His brother took him to a pool hall,
bought him tequila and beer chasers,
farted out loud and
commented over the texture and vibrato of each.
His brother laughed at anything—
his own jokes,
the old geezer with a chin stuck inside his mug,
the skipping juke box saying, “You give love a bad naye-naye-naye-naye.”

This place had the classic arcade games—Pac Man and Space Invaders.
Around 2:00 am,
Stucky threw them the keys and said to close up,
as if it was something he’d done a lot of times before.

He studied the homemade tattoos on his brother’s forearms.
Everything was short, choppy and to the point,
no word or ink mark wasting time on being clever:
Nam
R.I.P.
JayDed
Old Glory Hole
The little gray bug men
marched across the screen in neat rows.
His brother shot them down with his finger beating the sweaty red button.
He killed as many as he could.
He seemed happy.
_______________________

Veterans Reunion

I meet my older brother at a lake in Idaho
where a hundred Harley’s are lined up outside a bar.
All around us are chaps and jackets, more leather than I’ve ever seen at one place.
Do rags and bad tattoos, pony tails and goatees.
Cigarettes and beer cans.
I look out of place in my skinny cardigan and button down.
The geezer in the wheelchair has no legs, just a wise smile for me.
The man who claps my brother’s shoulder and says, “I’ll be damned,” has a red, white and blue prosthetic leg.

I keep to myself, slumped beneath a flag as big as a sheet.
I listen to them cackle and cough and share old stories.
One by one they come by, shake my hand,
say congratulations, “Harvard, huh?”
They tell me how proud my brother is.

On the ride home I know I should say something
but we’re both quiet,
me feeling selfish and small,
yet safe beside my hero.

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