Veteran 

©1986 Andrew Calhoun, recorded on Hope. 

Written on the coldest day in Missouri history, the train signals froze and I wrote this in the waiting room. It was triggered by a brief clip of a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War that I saw on TV. 

Do you love a gander? 
Do you love a goose? 
Are you chief commander? 
Is your body loose? 

Do you love a genie? 
Do you love a snake? 
Do you and John and Benny 
Grab at once, or alternate? 

My time is your time 
My life is yours to see 
Our life is echoed mountains 
Our space is memory 

See me in your high school yearbook  
See me at your senior prom  
See me fresh out of the army  
See me home from Vietnam 

See our house be broken 
See our bed spinning round 
Our life is leaf and hopes 
See little armies shoot them down 

Little armies on the sidewalk 
Helicopters overhead 
Spinning near where you and I talk 
Kill the living, wake the dead 

See the body in the ocean 
See the woman on the quay 
Life and love and tender tears 
And melancholy ecstasy 

See me walking with a placard 
See me throw my badge away 
See me very truly sorry 
See me broken anyway 

We are moving westward 
We are breaking camp 
See our silence fester 
See us cold and damp 

Skinny Susan, are you happy 
Skinny Susan, are you sad 
Skinny Susan, do you love me 
Are you dead or sick or mad? 

Mine is the crying mountain 
Mine the deadly blow 
Mine the dry fountain 
Mine, the din below 

Mine, the silver shadow 
Mine, the lone machine 
Mine, the revolving echo 
Poison oak and kerosene 

Will you love a killer? 
Will you take a chance? 
Screwdriver and a chaser 
Would you like to dance 

Will you forgive a table 
Will you forgive a shoe 
Do you forgive the rain 
For serenading down on you 

Do you forgive the sunrise 
Coming on a troubled house 
Do you forgive the mousetrap 
Or the landlord, or the mouse 

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