Love (again

j. palmer horst —  October 21, 2014 — 1 Comment

or for the first time) is still
tempered steel
wrought by fire and water.

the slow bleeding of hope into real
when what you expected
joined with what you found

wedding is bonding
melded youandi
made more than either

it is we; made sword
helmet, shield (battle-
welded, two-hearted)

we are one steeled blade
wielded before the war
–long before either.

He was waiting for Ed Vincent, the last of his crew still alive. Ed’s flight had gotten diverted coming through Chicago and was still on his way, but my grandfather didn’t know any of that. At 90, your first guess if your friend doesn’t arrive on time isn’t that their flight was delayed—it’s that they might have died. Understandably, Grandpa was anxious, and the joy of seeing the other ten or so veterans soon dimmed. He wanted to stay and wait rather than go to dinner. Even when he was convinced to come, his appetite was noticeably lacking.

Ed came late that night and they saw each other the next day.  It’s one thing to run into an old, good friend. But I suppose it’s something quite different to have fought and survived with that same friend in the greatest war the world ever saw. Grandpa never loved talking about the war until he got together with Ed. They somehow kept the pain at bay. Or maybe they understood it together enough to carry each other through the memory. The next two days in the city Ed and Grandpa were joined at the hip. Catching up and reminiscing. Ed’s wife had passed away and he remarried almost immediately—at age 90. Grandpa said that he was that kind of a guy. That he needed a companion.

Friday night all the vets gathered to tell us stories from the war. They kept it light (as light as they could, I suppose, when death was everywhere). Light or not, it still made my life seem absurdly meaningless. Strange how they fought to preserve my life, but the weight of the fighting took the weight from my life. Grandpa once told me when he was on a mission Japanese flak flew through the glass and just glanced his face. He was frozen from the fear when he heard a clear loud voice saying, “Don’t be afraid.” He said he asked the others if they had heard anything. They hadn’t.

Saturday Ed and Grandpa were thick as thieves. We went on a short tour of the harbor and went to lunch. Neither cared where we went or what we were doing, so long as they spent their little time together, together. That night we honored them still more, still not enough. Someone had gone to Tinian and brought back a piece of the runway these men knew too well. Grandpa was smiling.

Maybe when they fought a part of all of us was reborn. I’ll never get to die the way their friends died. I’ll never get to die the way they’ll die. But maybe if I live that way, it could be worth it. We left the next morning after prayer. Ed said he couldn’t make it next year; grandpa said he might not go.

Morbidity aside,

j. palmer horst —  September 23, 2014 — Leave a comment

when I was young(er than now)
I thought the world would erupt
like it did in thirty-nine
and I would have died in some
(hopefully) act of bravery

I feel younger now,
twenty-six and still
wanting a hero’s death
(never the life)

is that youth?
or is age weakness?
(or at least the knowing)

I am colored leaves,
here in Fall,
close to falling,
yet still with some use.
raking away or…perhaps
(if I’m lucky)
some play and beauty.


j. palmer horst —  August 20, 2014 — Leave a comment

a classroom is a lonely place
you sit pencil in hand listening
(or hearing) lectured knowledge
uttered perpetually with periodic
pauses—dead air, answerless faces
occasionally allowing greater silence
than you would ever allow at home.

that noiseless hum of empty
void which echos whoareyou
(or the truly horrific) whyareyou.

in that humming nothing it is only me
a momentary, darkling solipsist.


j. palmer horst —  July 24, 2014 — 1 Comment

The downpour left me stranded,
Cold by the over-airconditioned
Indoor coffeeshop air. A girl was
Waiting for it to let up and that is
When I remembered I forgot
My umbrella in my car.


j. palmer horst —  July 15, 2014 — Leave a comment

I loved without knowing what it might have been
Tonight with maybe-you(knowing what is was
You ripped out the me parts of me)
I am a fool–and partliar–
Consuming me while
Wretching you

time is a fragile thing this woman once said
it makes you wish you hadn’t done what you did
sitting with a cigarette hanging from my mouth
sitting next to business men and poor teenagers
in a glass enclosed “designated smoking area”
the passengers rushing to gates A5 through A15
couldn’t help but look at this quarantined cage
where those smokers with their ashes were
(maybe we wished we hadn’t done what we did)
smoke, smoke, smoke—people are watching.

tempered firm by rushing water,
I wear the eyes of dying heat,
happy in the coming slaughter
I am that chattel ripped from wheat
chilled away by coming winter
diminishing and incomplete

time is a fragile thing this woman once said
it makes you lose the things you never had
an airport gate soon becomes an eerie place
eyes twitching from person to phone to nothing;
fifteen minutes more; fifteen minutes to boarding
thumbs are flicking through florescence
next to me is a girl I hope is sitting next
to me when it matters—but it won’t matter.
(maybe I never would have had her)
flick, flick, flick—people are watching.

is time spent waiting time made lost?
static love is static water
sickness hidden by the frost
I am bleeding on this altar
this bitter winter moving through
loving me before I falter

time is a fragile thing this woman once said
it makes you forget what you wished you remembered
I’ve never been to salt lake city.  just the airport.
I’m not touring or learning or anything,
I am on some pilgrimage toward another place.
I got what I deserved, what wasteland was given
I’m smoking, she’s sitting, they’re flicking—
forgiveness is harder when you’re the sinner
(maybe I wanted to forget what I remembered)
run, run, run—people are watching.