July 2004 / Volume Five / Issue Three / Online
D.B. Cox

bus station
in new orleans,
holding a cup of coffee
with both hands

wearing a frayed
black beret pulled
low over a matted
gray ponytail

he contemplates
his hazy reflection
in the grimy mirror
behind the counter

one of those
forgotten people,
living a half-life,
just beyond anybody’s caring

two stools down,
i’m indirectly
studying this guy
in the mirror

when suddenly
he catches my
reflection --

now my eyes are his,
& his eyes are mine

the same empty stare
of thirty five years,
& a thousand yards
of un-crossable ground…

without turning his head,
& just loud enough
for me to hear,
he whispers, “it ain’t easy…”

i know my part
& reply, “there it is…”

& he quietly echoes,
the timeless marine corps
closing line,
“there it forever & fucking well is…”

between two old brothers,
who’ve already heard
way too many people
talking the same tired shit --

there’s no need
for further conversation…