The Ring Snake Patriot

Translated by Mike Delibash

by Alex Galper

a Nam vet
a junkie
is calling the office
begging for a house call:
it's a matter of life and death.
a broken mirror in the hallway
syringes all about
burned out floors and ceilings
consequences of an imaginary napalm blast
the walls bear a knife collection
in the yard a patch of dirt, a hole and a shovel.
in a cardboard box, on a pillow, draped in an American flag
is Tom the ring snake who
kicked the bucket.
tame, reconciled god's creature. . .
the stereo blasts the Star Spangled Banner
Bob is firing off his gun in the air,
weeping on my shoulder:
''Tommy was a real American!
That's why the Russians
Killed him
With space rays!''

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