Stand Down By Linda Lerner

I’m tearing up lettuce  cutting up cucumbers  tomatoes
not thinking about the upcoming week’s problems
turn the TV volume down on  some sports event till  60 minutes
begins: its news story  Stand Down  shoots the volume  up

out of my control into another tense
a truce between the past and present is broken

I watch vets crowd around tents  asking for help: treatment  jobs
and it’s 1993 again…we are at the first stand down
a vet salutes him and he salutes back  salutes a future intuited

I do not travel beyond that day  an outsider
I am taking it all in happy just to be together

the news commentator focuses on some homeless vets
he was never homeless  not physically  but was
mentally  he told me years later  trying to make me understand
what it’s like to become voiceless:
“can hear the tune   can  t sing”*

I couldn’t stop    and he didn’t want me to
but there it was   impassible

stand down: at ease  a temporary ceasefire
a Walt Disney survival fantasy:
word like a rock someone on a cliff throws off
hitting a person in a passing car

sniper word no one is ever prepared for…not I
not then  not now  not
that  Sunday  October 10th  2009


From “ the boys in the band” by Andrew Gettler


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