Goodbye Rudy For Ships

by Victor D Sandiego | Published: Sep 19, 2023

Feels like San Pedro or Long Beach when I wake up: my tongue ripped thick with sea salt and diesel stink, eyes filled with yellow streetlight burlap sky. Rats gnawing ropes over by Terminal Way

in my head.

Two guys hurry past my bench with underbreath mumbles about bums.

What do they know? Ocean breeze is still free.

From St. Mary’s, ambulances come and go. And they’re not talking of Michelangelo no more with bar fights and numb junkies to heal.

Taxi drivers slap their meters down. Sailors laugh and burp beer.

But my big brother Rudy not coming back to unbend the skewed angle of my pain. He stuck his head into a goddamn military

lynching noose. Signed up to be a homeland hero.

On 10th St. I’m dripping sweat in my shoes. I spent my last paper bill for some paper bag wine to escort my toes packed in thin leather soles over sidewalk cracks

as quick knives of the night carve my heart up.

A discarded man knows how to stagger through parks and weave around pedestrians who got their loved ones back when the war finally busted.

They didn’t pull last week’s bread crumbs from their pockets and plant them on footpaths as benchmarks for a convoy of coffins to follow home. It’s but a cruel joke because Rudy not coming back to caress my distress. He blew his big brother love into tree limbs above the tripwires.

At the docks, tall chain link and gray Navy ship hulls. And gulls crapsquawk white streaks on the foredecks when I hurl my empty bottle anger at those cold brass generals with fancy ribbons.

It’s no good, though. They’re bunkered down in far pentagons for sure and besides, my arc over razor wire is weak. Like pleading with giants from toadstools.

And right there, as a symbol of my soul, on the pavement, in sodium light between fence and dock, my wine bottle shatters.

I would fragment, too. Those last blood red drops drip from sad shards of myself. They slow crawl to the water like a stunted storm squall

and invite me to take communion with an emerald sea.

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