Aaron Graham

Rookie - 19 Points (02/25/1986 / Glenrock, WY)

Truck Stop Prophecies ~a Sestina~ - Poem by Aaron Graham

I sit in the corner of my all night diner
Listening to some twenty-something Catholic
Profess to someone, a friend perhaps,
God's ability to protect him life's dangers,
And how God makes him tingle with His presence.
While he lights another Marlboro Cigarette.

I resent his words and light my cigarette,
The only smoking-sanctuary left, my diner
My confessional, my liturgy. My mass: Catholic.
There was a time, lost to history, where perhaps
I was ignorant or inured to life and its dangers.
Shrapnel burns replace His tingling Presence,

The underside of war, exists beyond his Presence
Where my only solace was found in cigarette
Smoke. Privations, make me long for my diner
Whose meager comforts, seem ornate as Catholic
Sanctum's holy alters. My life, a sacrifice, perhaps
Will be offered, mitigating accrued sins' dangers.

For safety, I indulged in moral dangers.
Live in schism with the concept of Presence.
Penance will be measured in burnt cigarettes.
Forgiveness to be ordered, a la carte, at my diner.
The OIF-MRE-freeze-dried -cafeteria Catholic.
Preservatives to keep life: murder, Damnation perhaps.

To lengthen life's pain, I sold my soul, perhaps.
Unless God doesn't exist. Unless the Catholic,
Beatific, Vision is lie. And nothing beyond my diner,
Awaits the dead. Incense, sacral as a smoking cigarette.
If God exists, He's either to weak to rebuke life's dangers
Or a bastard, tormenting me, denying me His Presence.

I walk through a valley, the shadow of His Presence
Is a plague on my peripheral sanity, hooded, perhaps:
I cannot see the Man, woman, but recall my Catholic
Dogma, but know The Waste Land, smell the diner
Where I studied each allusion, smoking my cigarette
So I know I walk to my death, numbed by life's dangers.

Marching, Lighting a final Cigarette, Ashes to ashes, my dust: Catholic.
Enduring evangelism in my diner, remembering life's myriad of dangers.
Tonight I resent God's Presence; Sunday I'll go to Mass, perhaps.

Topic(s) of this poem: trauma, war, war memories, war veterans, warfare

Form: Sestina

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Poem Edited: Wednesday, August 17, 2016

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