Lodestar Quarterly

Lodestar Quarterly
Figure reaching for a star Issue 17 • Spring 2006 • Poetry

Shooting Star

Trebor Healey

He came like any other
In a corner sipping tea
Eyeing me
"How you doin'?" I chanced
"OK, dude," and he kicked the chair leg opposite him
An invitation to sit

We spoke of the rain
Which led to his truck and his horses
Mostly I was fascinated by his naiveté
"I got no gaydar, dude"
He was just back from Iraq
"I was there twice"
And the shrapnel scar he shows me on his knee

"I wasn't afraid," he said defiantly
Nor am I  I think to myself
As he told me how he came home to therapy and Zoloft
The foster homes as a child
"My parents never wanted me; I was a mistake.
I joined up because what else was I gonna do?"

"What's the worst thing you saw?" I asked
"Charred bodies -- you could still see their penises, just burnt black things.
-- Oh, and the women and children ground into the pavement like roadkill. You know, like black stains?"
And he said it without feeling
"Did you ever shoot anybody?"
"No, we just ran over people already shot a long time ago;
I was a radio man
I think it's the wrong war
But I'm Marine Corps"

I nodded.

He brings that up later as we move into sex
"I'm a top," he says, "this'll never work."
"I'm not about that," I tell him
I lick the shrapnel scar on his knee
"I don't know," he muses, "I can't imagine it. It's kinda like what the Marines say:
'I came to conquer, not to bow.'"
I think it sounds stupid, as stupid as war
But I will not judge him
I am a Buddhist
I came to bow not to conquer

He calls all the time for a while
Then he disappears
I am not so young to be a fool for love
I bow
I whisper
His name
Again and again

Then out of the blue: He's been busy, how about next week?
All day, lying about
I give him a tarot reading with no great news
He wants to learn, and so he fakes a reading for me
All about this new young man I've met
and how important it is for me to know him and become his friend

After all his talk of never being afraid, I come to pity him
He'll make me cry, I think to myself
Again and again
You'll be lucky the day he goes
He looks at me now in a way that makes me think he'll never leave
But also that he can't afford to look at anyone like that again or often

I'd do foolish things for him
Against my better judgment
His parents didn't want him
But the Marine Corps did
Shock and Awe
Tracers in the nightsky

Those who care and those who don't

He vanished next time for good

Shooting star
No honor among thieves
But the light's the same

Only brighter

Trebor Healey is the author of the 2004 Ferro-Grumley and Violet Quill award-winning novel Through It Came Bright Colors. His poetry collection Sweet Son of Pan is due out from Suspect Thoughts Press in June 2006, and a short story collection, A Perfect Scar and Other Stories, is will be released by Harrington Park Press in 2007. Trebor lives in Los Angeles where he is at work on his second novel. www.treborhealey.com.

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