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William Trowbridge


My father, who fought
in France and Germany --
Baker Company -- would ask
if we were  nervous
in the service, or say
macht schnell! when I wasn’t
mowing fast enough,
or wake up in his icy
foxhole screaming.

Mother bought the wrong
hot dogs once, ones his company
didn’t make. Just once,
like the time I wouldn’t try
their french fried bacon rinds.

He kept his Bronze Stars
in a sock drawer,
their official boxes leather
bound, velvet lined. I could
see them if I asked,
show them to my friends,
whose fathers missed the war.

When his company’s stock
was going down and down,
the other VPs, who’d slithered
past the draft, he’d note --
swirling another Scotch
-- dropped their shares and ran.
He held on tight to the only
stock he’d ever owned,
my angry hero father,
G.I., government issue,
who died years later,
surrounded, holding out.    




It takes a golden heart, Fool’s told,
free from the merest fleck of sin,
from the slightest tilt toward mischief
no worse than, say, kicking a beggar,
to turn base metal into something worth
any number of living things, including
your brother, your wife and children,
and children those children might have
and children they might have
or think about having, consciously
or unconsciously, and their dogs,
cats, goats, fish, monkeys, sheep,
and any other pets and livestock,
including those little yellow budgies
that go “ka-roo, ka-roo”when you talk
baby talk to them; and babies, too,
in case you thought they weren’t included
in “children”; and fetuses down to
those that are just one atome, that could
still grow into frogs or camelopards,
which, along with atomes, are also listed.

“How’s rat catching pay?“ asks Fool,
lead heart thumping in its cauldron.