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Dec 5, 2012

Corsica, June 12, 1975 - Thomas Michael McDade

The statue of Napoleon
was huge and Jim Graden
mimicked Napoleon’s
hand inside his coat
and I sang what I could
recall of the old hit “Waterloo.”
As we tasted our first crepes
schoolgirls practiced
English on us
and a career boatswain
serenaded a barmaid,
promised an allotment.
After exchanging dollars
at the Banque de Worms,
we walked around
a poppy-filled park occasionally
stopping to study the artwork
on our fancy new money.
Seamen in our thirties, when most
enlisted our age were chiefs,
we ruled out getting drunk.
We smoked Rum Crooks
and I kicked off the spending
by paying a hefty fee for Kerouac’s
The Town and the City.
I bought a Herald Tribune;
to check baseball standings.
Shoemaker rode my pick, Avatar
to victory in the Belmont Stakes.
Jim’s splurge was more exciting.
He said he might become
the first U.S. sailor to smuggle
French fireworks into the States
and I didn’t argue.
I note that distinction
often on the phone and
Jim recaps his imported
pyrotechnic show –
a Two Harbors,
Minnesota sky raging
like a giant emperor
holding court on those who
dared to take his ponderous
bronze lightly –
some duds mimicking
bee swarms in their fall.

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