Vincent Parson, Aerohamaxeus
by Joshua GageWe're a tourist trick to keep old soldiers
flush and drunk, a way to stay alive
in a world with no more use for war. I winch
my way through Potetopolis, the steam
inside my biceps sweating through their seams,
the gears inside my elbows ever cycling.
Before the war, I played the mandolin.
Santa Lucia's gondoliers would pay
for me to sit at the prow of their ship and pluck
the strings with fingers limber enough to roll
a cigarette in one hand or tease
a moan from a lover's throat with just one stroke
of her stockinged thigh. Now, young ladies giggle
beneath their parasols, imagining
what else I've got that's built of steel.
I wink for their tip, happy to crank them through
this island's towers, propeller at full tilt,
arms peddling until they almost burst.
How they would shriek if they saw my room at night,
these damn contraptions dangling by the lamp,
the flame's pale light reflected in the glass
dials and trickles of grease. Beneath the sheets,
I stare at the ceiling, the yellow flesh of my scars
itching, the stumps of my shoulders feeling the ghosts
of flesh and bone shrapneled away, the tune
of a delicate waltz twinkling in my ears.
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