Our Veterans Day 2010

Stumbling south along a scratchy concrete sidewalk he can feel through his shoes, he passes the Lakeview Pantry storefront on Broadway in Chicago and tries to remember their distribution day but gets confused because the sky, so achingly blue and wide feels just like Afghanistan.

Across the street next to the big hotel that used to be the whore house shopping center back in the day when the Paul Whitman Orchestra played the gilded Spanish columns of the Aragon Theater and the ushers tapped you on the shoulder if your dancing crossed the line; he hears a child yelping in the swing set park —and his hand is on the red clay hut in Kabul, he hears that same child again, seven clicks, there is a gun, there is a gun, the flashing of the Taliban eyes and the beard and he fires and the child ripped apart, the ancient black eyes of a 5 year old, the blood pouring from his mouth as he writhes on the floor, never knowing why. . .never knowing why. . .the running sounds of the bearded rebel scampering up to the roof of the red clay death scene. . . .

The #36 Broadway bus steams over to swoosh open it’s doors and let him in. Flopping on a seat. Looking out the window again at the cruelty of the clear blue sky. It is Thursday. He tries to remember which church has the meal tonight. It is warm today, he thinks it’s November but he’s not sure. In that warmth he knows there is an undertone of a brutal hard winter in Chicago coming. He wonders where he’ll sleep when blackness comes tonight.

But then for him.

The honored veteran.

It might as well be spring.

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