November 9, 2010

S. Brady Tucker

REGRETS NUMBER 191: THE BOSNIAN

So, an old girlfriend (see poem Regrets Number 82: Old Girlfriends
Never Die) and I pick up these three foreign travelers (one girl
from Holland, one boy from Venezuela, one boy from Bosnia)
and within a few minutes this crazy bitch has invited them to stay
with me for the week. We get to my tiny little dank place
in the Haight and try to have a conversation in my den,
which has us sitting almost knee to knee, but it is splitting into like
fifty directions (imagine the play by play of the three languages
bumping together: each fouling and double-dribbling and getting
back-court violations, and English is doing a terrible job at referee.*
Then this conversation goes ghetto on us, a real street-ball game
with fouls and dunks and under-cutting because we add absinthe
and Crazy Horse malt liquor into our mix, and soon I am embellishing
my combat stories of the Persian Gulf War—what it feels like
to have blood on your clothes that is not your own, what it is like
to hold your friend down by the throat as you try to cinch a tourniquet,
how everything is quiet after a close call with a frag grenade.
I don’t know if I was trying to engender pity or what, but three
years passed before I realized what an ass I was—that the Bosnian must
have felt like he missed something important in the translation
of my history, because to him, this poor American maniac (me)
is not seeing the critical difference between, A: putting dead total fucking
strangers into body bags, and B: loading your dead mother
(shot in face) and sister (raped and shot in liver) and mailman
(landmine) onto a mule drawn cart headed to an isolated and diseased
landfill, because nobody has the time or money to fold them
into wooden caskets, and dig shallow graves for them anymore.

 

* this metaphor goes out to “Train” Williams—a teammate of mine in college.

from Rattle #24, Winter 2005