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Patricia A Martin

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The Last of the Best
by Patricia A Martin

Thursday, November 19, 2009
Not rated by the Author.
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Recent poems by Patricia A Martin
•  Watch Me, Daddy
•  On Growing Old
•  Learning To Fly
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           >> View all 33

Today I sat with my old bomber nose gunner, and listened once again to stories Iíve heard before, but may never hear again. I hold his hands, the ones that held medical instruments and lethal weapons, and I brush his wispy hair back off his forehead, and I wonder at the paper thinness of his skin. He is disappearing before my eyes.


 

He was a cocky kid,
Youngest of three brothers,
With a sister older by twelve years
Thrown in for good measure.
And his mother was forty-four.
The shame of it. It was 1920.
 
He was not a scholar.
He loved hockey, when it was still
A little man’s game.
He weighed one hundred twenty pounds
with a brick in each hand.
 
He loved music, Dixieland, Drums,
And so loving it, he lived it,
And did the gin-joints
Before he was old enough to drink.
Before he was old enough to die.
 
He married his girl on Christmas Eve,
Just after Pearl Harbor. 
He was gone soon after. 
For over five years.
He was a nose gunner in a B-24.
There were rules. And he obeyed.
 
Then the war was over,
they all came home. 
To distant wives. 
To grown-up families. 
To unemployment. 
To shame. 
To children they had never seen.
 
And so this ordinary kid just followed the rules. 
He took care of his family
In the only ways he knew how.
He went away to school for another
Three years, and he came back
A Registered Male Nurse. 
 
But he worked hard, and paid attention. 
And he soon fell in with the government,
And his life changed. 
He was making more money. 
Than his father ever had,
And the old man was embarrassed.
His son. A nurse. 
And a musician.
 
But he always did the right thing.
Even if it didn’t seem so at the time,
And he took care of his wife
       and his daughter,
And was largely taken for granted
By the wife who wanted cocktail parties
And recognition.
 
And when she died, in the fiftieth year
Of their union, and on his birthday,
He was inconsolable. He was bereft.
He went away, to England, where
He had always wanted to go.
He realized he was, finally, free.
And he liked it.
And he began to live his life. 
 
And one day soon he will leave me.
I will truly be an orphan.
Or a grown-up.
 
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Reviewed by Juliet Waldron 11/22/2009
Oh, Patti! What a terrific, moving tribute to your Dad! It's the last verse that really knocks me out. Poetry truly saves and defines us, and you're a gifted practitioner of the ancient art. :)
Reviewed by John Flanagan 11/22/2009
Patti,
This is marvellous narrative, not a waste word or phrase, the picture so in focus, and the story the truth and nothing but...excellent confessional, memoir and eloquent tribute. Yes!

John

PS: it took me an age to read this, to decipher the text...sorry to complain, but my very poor eyes can't handle small, I had to use a magnifying glass and it blurs like hell on the monitor.
Reviewed by Gene Williamson 11/20/2009
A tribute that should gladden the heart of any father.
You're one helluva writer, Pattie. -gene/

Reviewed by Regis Auffray 11/20/2009
A fine and informative tribute/biography as expressed by your verses; very nicely done, Patricia. Love and best wishes to you,

Regis
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