MEDITATION ON RE-READING
FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, JAMES JONES,
AFTER 52 YEARS, 49 YEARS AFTER MUSTERING OUT
Fuckleberry. How could you not love
a young man given that name? Fuckleberry,
and his friends who named him. Damned,
James, what to say? Yesterday, 60 pages to go,
on Highway 12 with Karen, driving to White Pass
for garden rocks with stops on the Tieton River,
trying to tell it straight up and soft.
How the book came into my hands. I was 20,
EM in Panama. Damned from here to there.
With Kipling's Barrack Room Ballads
in my duffle bag. Going like this:
Robert E Lee Prewitt, boxer to bugle--
Arlington, enlisted, to remain one
at a cost: to Treatment, Break him,
to the whorehouse, American loneliness,
scraping dead skin to blood cells--
The Re-enlistment Blues, collaboration
before the bust. Busting justice, busting
what gets protected, busting what's phony
in pride, busting all the way to the Stockade,
Stockade itself, a halfway house for trustees,
a test to get to Barracks II and Jack Malloy.
Dropping down the anchor rung by rung.
Anchor to Chancre. Honest Injun.
To citizenship. This far. Citizen.
To John the Baptist and Jesus.
And further. To Fuckleberry's,
I'll do it. Sure. I'm game.
Fuckleberry's Blues. America's
Game and Gone. 'Muricun.
Enlisted man blues. That song
written out. Sitting around. Scraps of paper.
The 10 cent notebook. Let it go
and come back to it. Soljur
carrying the confederate name
written out for the first time, GI.
And Top. I tell Karen in the car
about loving and hating, this Catullus,
tearing up his commission,
Fuck this shit. Prewitt's final
moment in the sand trap, Top returning
to the squad car, reaching between seats
for a dead man's only treasure,
a single poem in a cheap notebook,
The Re-enlistment Blues.
Catch 22 written here first.
Drink your Castor Oil.
This is some kind of Army.
Books to read in a GI's shirt pocket.
1967 Panama--2017 Yakima