At a Barbecue for R.C. One Week After He Is Out of Iraq
He laughs and tosses back
another shot of whiskey.
There are questions about cousins,
how is Lisa doing, she still drinking,
did Eddy finally marry that big
bitch, heard Monica is in L.A. now.
I fill him in, crack open another beer
chaser, and tell what stories I can.
I am light here, keeping things brief,
smiling, avoiding the heat from his skin,
the pocks and purple circles
that tighten his face, mar it.
A curl of scarred flesh lifts up
from the collar of his shirt,
hanging like a question
I can’t ask. And suddenly the food
is done, barbeque finished,
mom calls out to get the kids
ready to eat, and his face fills
with an emptiness, jaw loosens
and he is muttering now, about kids,
something about so many goddamn
kids. He asks me if I know what
the color of brains really is,
and I answer that the ribs
are getting cold.