necessary illusions by DB Cox

—I am tired. My heart is sick & sad. From where the sun now stands in the
sky, I will fight no more forever… Chief Joseph–Nez Perce

standing just out of range of a street lamp
i watch the shadows of tree branches
move along the empty avenue
almost every night
i come to stare at this vacant lot
the spot
where the lighthouse baptist church once stood

i open the back door to my mind
& dream-walk through the wreckage
across the floor of my memory

one drunken saturday night in 1985
my father
lonely for god
broke into the little wooden sanctuary
& doused the whole place
with gasoline
then he took a seat
in the front pew
lit a lucky strike
& burnt the son-of-a-bitch
down around his ears
the last “zippo party”

i don’t know
when my father’s heart
turned as black
as a piece of granite
from that sad “wall”
but most of his last days
were used up in a rage

when the whiskey was talking
the old man raved about
“search & destroy” patrols
wiping out entire vietnamese villages–
when there was no one left to waste
the cigarette lighters were thumbed open
& everything standing
was burnt to the ground
“zippo party”
a few more ‘dink’ hearts & minds pacified

there was a time
when i believed
my father was a hero

there was a time
when i believed
in simple right & wrong

there was a time
when i believed
in america

there was a time
when i believed
in all of the “necessary illusions”

enough to put my soul on the line
enough to go out
& confront things
i did not understand

another war
tied to another lie

bent under the weight of things
that can never be set right
i slide a shaky right hand
inside my jacket pocket
& retrieve a half-pint of i.w. harper
i raise a toast
to the lighthouse baptist church

a cold breeze sends
dead leaves skittering
along the gutter

i stare up the street
to where the white lines
are swallowed by the darkness

“vanishing point”

somewhere a lost dog howls
i step from the curb
a windblown bird
into the crazy night



5 Responses to “necessary illusions by DB Cox”

  1. Carter Monroe Says:

    Always on the mark, D.B. A great piece.

  2. Thank you Carter. You have always been my guiding light. This one is for Veteran’s Day. Semper Fidelis.

  3. You always amaze me with your talent…who would have known back in the 60’s!

  4. Jane,

    Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on this poem. Here’s to the Class of 1966… Go Tigers!!

  5. Happy Marine Corps Birthday……….

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