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This poem is taken from PN Review 196, Volume 37 Number 2, November - December 2010.

Who He Was Dan Burt
(Joe Burt 1915–1995)

I


He catapulted from his armchair,
airborne for an instant, primed to smash
the fledgling power who dared challenge
his rule. That runty five-year-old who would
not stop his catch to fetch a pack of Luckys
crossed some unmarked border, threatened
the kingdom’s order and loosed the dogs of war.

No chance to repent, no strap, no bruises
on my face, my mother’s screaming just static
behind the pounding taking place; rage spent,
sortie ended, he thumped down the stairs
to his crushed velvet base, pending new
provocations to launch him into space.

Worse followed till my biceps hardened,
but that first strike left most scars: with strangers
six decades on klaxons ahwooga,
...


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