Paradise Lost
(Becoming a Man Part 1)

In the summer of

72 by some

Chance for some

Reason

Apathy

Defiance

Bad tude

Oppositional behavior my

Parents at

Wit’s end

Put me on a plane to

Germany

I’d been reading

Hemingway the

Short Stories

Alpine Idyll

A clean well lighted

Place

Cat in the rain

I landed in

Frankfurt my older

Brother was not there to

Greet me but I had his

Address so I hailed a

Cab and felt like a

Man for maybe the

First time in my

Life I was

Fifteen

My brother

Eleven years older

He the oldest

Me the youngest of

Six Boys

Asked me how old I was

Eighteen I told him

He barely knew I existed

Off to prep school

Before I started

Grade school but

Here I

Stood on his

Threshold what do you

Want

To do

He asked

Where do you want to go

Paris

I told him and

Switzerland by

Train

He bought me a Eurail

Pass and off I went no

Smarter than a

Golden retriever but not

Afraid to ask

Questions or

Sound stupid or

Risk it all

Everywhere I went I

Smiled

Doors

Swung open and the

World offered its

Welcome the

Basilica of the Sacré-Coeur the

Champs-Élysées the

Swiss sky

Deep blue over the

Matterhorn a

Beautiful young waitress with a

Gap toothed

Smile when I asked in bad

German for

Eier und wurst

My brother living in Germany

Serving in the US Army

Serving as a medic in a

US Army

Hospital on the

Psych ward

Filled with US soldiers all

Freaked out from

Alcohol and

Drugs and

War and

Death in

Southeast Asia my

Brother had not wanted to serve in the

Army in the

Armed Services he was a

CO

Conscientious objector but they had

Drafted him anyway and

Made him watch over the

Kooks and

Crazies the

Drunks and

Drug addicts the

Broken Ones with wounds of the

Body and

Head and

Heart

He took me to a

German

Brothel when I got back from my

Swiss

Eye opening

Sojourn and

Paid for me to take another step

Toward

Manhood I still

Remember that skinny

Fraulein

Legs as long as the

Eiffel Tower

Long straight bleach blond hair

Crooked teeth not much

Older than

Me

But wiser

I guess more

Worldly she had me

Serviced practically before I had my

Knickers down around my

Ankles

My lance corporal brother

Laughed and

Laughed at the

Brevity of my

Entanglement and

Bought me my first

Beer

We ate fat

Bratwurst and

Salty sauerkraut at an outdoor

Café on

Berger Strasse and he asked me

How old are you

Really and in the

Morning we took the train to

Munich to the

Summer

Olympics where we watched

Pole vaulters and

Sprinters and

Shot putters

Divers and

Backstrokers and

Butterfliers

We met up with some of my

Brother’s army

Buddies and drank

Tall steins of

Golden pilsner and

Talked about how men and

Countries should settle their

Differences through

Debate and

Arm wrestling and other

Athletic competitions rather than through

Idiotic

Blood sucking

Wars

Like

Vietnam

War my brother

Opined

Marijuana cigarette between his

Thumb and

Index finger

Smoke billowing from his nose and

Mouth is so

Fucking

Stupid so fucking

Uncivilized the

Attack

Happened the next day when the

Black September

Terrorists from

Palestine

Massacred the

Weightlifters

Wrestlers and

Fencers from

Israel who had come in

Peace to

Compete and

Meet other

Athletes from

America and

Britain

Canada and

Denmark

Estonia

Finland and

Germany

Civilization

Stripped

Bare

Savaged

Right down to the

Bone

Paradise

Lost

Innocence and

My

Youth

Shattered

Welfare
(Wild Bill musing on his 20-year-old son, me)

Fat lazy toad

Sits on the edge of my pool

Jumps in

Splash

Sucked into the

Skimmer along with the rest of the

Swimming pool

Trash

Leaves and beetles and

Windblown clippings of

Freshly mown

Grass

I fish him out

Toss him next to the old

Pile of

Fireplace ash but

Toad’s quick

He’s back in the pool

Faster than

Bobby Hayes could run the

100 hundred yard

Dash

I fish him out again put him out by the

Road stuff his slippery

Pockets with

Cash

Toad says

Hey padre any

Chance you got any

Hash

I give him a sliver of

Lebanese blond no

Thicker than a blind man’s

Eyelash

No way fat

Toad’s getting a fatter chunk of my

Private stash

Toad sticks out his

Thumb

Seconds later has himself a ride in a

53 Nash

I go to bed

Eat popcorn

Drink pap

Watch back to back to back

Episodes of

Mash and in the

Morning

Fat toad’s

Sittin on my window

Sill sash says

Man what a bender

I sure could use a place to

Crash

I wave him back to the spare

Bedroom where

Fat Toad starts passin the most

Fascist and

Noxious gas

Months later Fat Toad’s still

Back there and now he’s got this

Horny She-Toad

Who’s given him the most vile

Rash

She-Toad’s a bitch

Ornery

Brassy and

Brash

I finally give up the

Ghost

Pack my gear

Light out

Take a long slow

Paddle

Down the

Allagash