On a park bench alone in his eighties,

this he’ll never tell:

cold wet socks in a forest,

cries of the other boys in his platoon,

one he carried through snow.


He’ll never betray them nor her,

the German girl he begged to come home with him,

their autumn afternoons on the Rhine,

the silent rubble of the new peace.


He won’t talk about parades,

medals hidden under folded shirts,

the bullet still buried in his back.


What you get is just an old man in a tam,

his oversized nose and support shoes.

Not many will guess he once stood

6 foot 2 in pinstriped suit,

engineered dams in the Midwest,

can find his name in any Who’s Who.


Ask him and he’ll say it doesn’t matter.

A story untold is the best story,

a story you can suck

all afternoon in the middle of autumn

through a long stemmed pipe.