A Break from the Bush

The South China Sea
Drives in another herd.
The volleyball’s a punching bag:
Clem’s already lost a tooth
& Johnny’s left eye is swollen shut.
Frozen airlifted steaks burn
On a wire grill, & miles away
Machine guns can be heard.
Pretending we’re somewhere else,
We play harder.
Lee Otis, the point man,
High on Buddha grass,
Buries himself up to his neck
In sand. “Can you see me now?
In this spot they gonna build
A Hilton. Invest in Paradise.
Bang, bozos! You’re dead.”
Frenchie’s cassette player
Unravels Hendrix’s “Purple Haze.”
Snake, 17, from Daytona,
Sits at the water’s edge,
The ash on his cigarette
Pointing to the ground
Like a crooked finger. CJ,
Who in three days will trip
A fragmentation mine,
Runs after the ball
Into the whitecaps,
Laughing.
© Yusef Komunyakaa. (1993). Neon Vernacular, p.146.

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