I've worked in holes before,
worm-deep, we call them jackal pits,
pilings, work crews strung out,
stoop and kneel, down where the new rising
grabs at the earth, footings, foundations,
sledge and lock in the steel forms,
pour the mud, rattail it all down,
no air pockets, sky flaws
But never anything like this.
and one time only,
I grab my grandson by the wrist,
drag the both of us to the pit edge.
I hoist him up on my shoulders,
a two-person tower.
I don't know why I keep thinking of Nam,
not this 110-story shit hole.
There were no towers in Nam,
only huts, hootches, Hellhole hootches.
I burned my share of them,
maybe more, always made it into a joke.
You know, snap, crackle, and pop.
I didn't give a flying oink fuck
about the men, Charlie Boy faces.
But the mothers, kids, some
of them, only their screams made it out.
Sometimes I get so goddamn mad
I could throw this 4-year-old and myself
into this jackal Hellhole,
laugh my head off all the way down.
The kid's had enough up there.
He's sick of it, blear-eyed wormer squirmer,
knocks my Yankee cap off,
grumbles, "Every bone in this building
is busted." You got it, kid.
Welcome to the Nam.
Snap, crackle, and pop.
Never anything like this?
Bullshit, who am I trying to kid?
When I was four,
I believed I could dig all the way to China,
bust through on the other side,
and gulp down whatever there was
of light. A terror,
a little four-armed fury demon,
I'd grab for my plastic beach shovel.
Sand would explode in all known directions,
damn near as fast as when mortar mama
hits home. After 2 or 3 feet,
mom would start her big person's
chuckle. And I would steam off
down the beach, growling
"Just wait, I'll show you."
Takes 45 years of digging,
more killing than any grunt can count,
before my skull finally gets it right.
You never get past the worms.
We never find anything here,
no burnt body parts, bodies anyway,
not even the furies without heads.
Alejandro, the youngest one,
unearths a belt buckle,
Rapid City, South Dakota, Championship
the year the war was supposed to end.
After 256 days of digging,
I get a little dizzy from crouching,
clawing away at the rubble heap.
I jerk up too fast, turn to see my childhood
hero, Yogi, Yogi "boom boom" Berra.
World Series, championship game,
he's squatting down behind home plate
in the middle of this pit bull stadium.
A smoker down the middle,
dark numero dos, sizzle three three three,
they damn near burn a hole in his mitt.
Yogi rises slowly, turns to the batter,
turns to the Charlie crowd.
I jump up, outa this 50,000 face foxhole,
yell, "Yogi, I'm your fan.
I'm the biggest fan you've got,
ever." Yogi stares me square in the eyebones,
and this is where the worms crawl in,
says, "Pogo, I do believe you're out."