Young Men

Jacob Eisenmann

At the helm of a wasteland,

An abandoned Naval Air Base now

Every jaundiced edifice barricaded by white

Plywood from the outside, stands


A kiel and its solitary chore

To hold a great wingèd beast hovering

Above a patch of green

On route to an abandoned desert war.


One day we lighted up, sat

Half-squating on the grass

Gulpfulls of smoke rising

Up past the nose of the Tomcat.


But, for me, no father, brothers — mama (my)

Wouldn’t’ve let them anyway — in any war;

19 years old

Is youngish to die.


Aside: (Page A6, new and clean,

The New York Times — mornings I read

At home with mama on the

Floor — told me it was routine.)


High on Alaskan Thunder Fuck (their phrasing)

I felt safe to share

My concern for well-

Being with the boys (also naval gazing),


Who returned blankish defying

Stares — Ian even looked up

From the bright spot

Focused from mama’s magnifying


Glass reddening the calm

Of the cardboard-looking cylinder

Attached by a couple more dark cylinders

To the brown spatula of his palm.


I wasn’t the thoughtful boy

Who is also the leader.

I am the boy with the car and mama

That holds boys


Till they let the black and blue

Of eyelids turn wet with

Older evil water

Trying to make it through


Towards divinity. Any day

A backpack by the door meant

Mama boiling tap water and a boy

smiling sheepish, tanned back to clay,


On the high stool without his things.

I think she makes them feel down-

Right civilized with saucers. “Hi”—Axed the matter,

Boys; “Kings among kings.”


The boy believes mama’s destined

To understand:


“Among high school roughery, steal

What tough boys knew

When they stole away the muffler

In Auto Shop, made old steel


Carcasses machine guns again”

What did they know? An older

Evil question in real

Time: Bra-ta-ta-ta-tin—


Two hands are one rifle.

Hollow, intimated, surfaceless bullets

Into my gut, mama’s counter imbrued.

It’s a downright massacre or “Just a trifle,”


The saucer’s caught the most of it.

The casualty of mimicry

Is knowing real noise’s competence.

Silence is inadequate,


Ian mocks me “19 years

And he ain’t ready to go.

Only thing ya fears is fear himself—

Only thing I fears


Is my old man’s belt,

The one with the studded dragon

And the big buckles when I

Told him that I felt.”


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