Poetry: Makin’ My Bed

Retired me. Who cares?
Nothing left to lose.
But I make my bed
almost every day, if I so choose.
That means something,
but I have no idea what or why.

On most days, that’s a lie cuz,
for five decades,
Yolonda did
but when she don’t,
I do
if I can get there
first and I wonder why.

I look at the sheets, covers, and depending
on the time of year, the top bed spread
searching for signs of how I slept that night.
I mean. Who cares? Right?

The pillow goes to the floor, I press a button
to flatten the mat before the sheet is pulled
to the tight top where
it is — only when made.
Like a surgeon
I begin the art
of vanishing lumps and wrinkles.

The Air Force gave me Army lessons
on how to make my bed,
more like a bunk or cot.

Rudely rousted at reveille with
bright lights and loud
everything to fall out into
the dark of early morning
in a few minutes for roll call.

At 18, mom’s boy had to be
all bright and spiffy,
a sharp troop at Dress right,
DRESS, attentive eyes FRONT.
A bed made so tight
two-bits bounced a foot
or gigged in for the weekend,
shining brogans, boots, buttons, and brass.
Our racks trashed.

Who cares? Right? I did then.
I look at my bed now,
no olive drab green wool blanket,
tightly tucked with
no fake pillow
too small for a human head,
no quarter to bounce.

Retired but bed made.
No gigs. Weekends free, still. A made
bed is work of art, a memory,
and if nothing else,
it’s ready for me at the end of this day.

Play Retreat first, then Taps, sleep well,
final Reveille sounds early.


Both ways begin with dreams at night,
in the morning it’s high and tight.
Look both ways.
Mind the gaps and the gigs. FALL OUT!

Gig is military slang for demerit. Gigged in means restricted to barracks due to excessive demerits. “Gig ‘em, Aggies!” is not the same gig.

Poetry: The Fire Down Below

The miserable hot last days of summer
back in sixty-four, back at basic, back
before when in green uniform we all wore
black polished brogans, the boots of
airmen basics who were third-class to be
who walked and marched so perfectly in step
to the deep voice and beat of Jody calls
of some long forgotten TI keeping pace,
and cadence with forward; yer left, right,
aeyyepp, heft, leey-eft, sing-it – Basic!

Long ill-fit pants and button starched
shirts and hard desert pith helmets
moving and drilling into hot sticky
sweat dripped-on drill-pad black tar
as rainbows watched and wished
and wondered as we did it with smooth
cool rhythms and rhymes marches
on without red-flag days with a pill of salt
‘smoke ‘em if ya’ got ‘em cigs in socks’
breaks; then drill, drill, drill old rock and roll.

The soft rumble of boots on feet make
the beat of quiet cadence on walk or road,
‘There she was just a-walkin’ down the street’
dress right-dress, road guards out – troops
always marching, walking not talking no-
thinking waiting for me was mo’ kay-pee, not
some “Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do,”
just hot sweat; sun turning boys to beets
in boxers where scalded butts and balls felt
the pain of the bloody red crotch-rot grow.

Every step became a new miserable pain,
working KP was to waddle legs spread,
just do and do well, never complain,
Save me sergeant from this misery below
down south will never again be all the same,
to march and to walk, maybe to never again go.
Cookie, gimme some nice corn starch, a powder
to bring calm love and peace of thee unto me,
to my family jays, my centering soul,
ending for another day, the fire down below.

Back in the Day

Look both ways, but looking back may be best.
Mind the gaps and smoke ’em if ya got ’em.