Len Kuntz

Washington

I am with you, as broad-chested as I can be, yet the rain here has slick shoulders, the Evergreens still wear razor-wire phalanges, and there are mountains known to swallow grown men whole.

 

You say, But across state, people have stopped jumping off the Aurora Bridge.

 

You say, Across state, they’re building higher high-rises.

 

You say, Maybe if we moved, you’d forget everything and we could be normal for once.

 

I don’t say: Here on the east side, this has been another trying day, the demons mad as hell, as famished as ever, their teeth sabers, their fingers ice picks, and their breath a coil of noose-shaped smoke.

 

Yet we stand at ease beside a red wagon with its rusted-out bed, holding random tools in a rare picture taken of us out of costume.

 

It’s 1969 and Nixon has yet to resign, one of us hasn’t died, one hasn’t gone crazy, while another is stacking shells somewhere in the middle of ‘Nam.

 

Still the sun seems kind for once, observant and merciful.

 

In the photo no one is screaming, there isn’t any bloodno belt or stripes or scars, no kneeling-on-rocks discipline.

 

To anyone else we appear almost happy, almost safe, because, eyeing our photographer like wary pawnshop dealers, it’s just the five of us this once

brothers,

survivors,

Washingtonians,

Kuntzes,

Volks,

Hauffs

young felons about to flee this home, and state, in order to reassign our identities, enter witness protection, and begin anew.