I trembled along the muddy river’s edge
not for fear of drowning
but for coming up a fourth time
to realize I am still alive.

I once dove in headlong from a boat
yearning for the black current
to drag me into the good darkness
turn my blue veins black with silt.

The river patrol yanked me from the water
with a grappling hook in my belt.
Arrested and fined for creating a disturbance.
boating without a lifejacket, resisting an officer,
and being under the influence.

Twenty four hours in the drunk tank
with Indians, psychos, two Aryan Brothers,
a homeless man who pretends to be drunk.
My uncle Shorty bailed me out.

I am a poet so I felt it my duty to die young.
Having survived D-Day Shorty understood death
but not a young man’s desire.
Ashamed for my weakness and sad for my mother,
Your father was a strong man, you need to find your place among men.

A place among men.
The tank was beautiful with men, strong men who understand
nothing stands between us and death but the strumming of a pulse.
Nothing else between us and the soft brown hands of the muddy river.