Tom McDade



Did Memorial Day approaching

fuel my dream of a kid I knew

who’d served in the Marines?

We loved the horses but underage,

jumped fences, outran cops

to get a bet down.

When I awoke we were at a window

cashing winning tickets.

Saw him last at the Narragansett

Park under last race lights.

Not for nothing, he was a heavy smoker

and my memory squinted through

a fog to make certain it was him.

His older sister dated a guy who wore a black

leather jacket: “Love Hurts” in big white

letters on its reverse.

In the Corps also, he counseled Vets

after city trash truck work wore him down.

Liver disease failed to count

his medals, finished him off.

She had beautiful eyes but cancer didn’t

care how startling their blue.

My old gambling friend was in Nam too.

He went into furniture repair

and refinishing after discharge.

I hoped the ponies still mattered

and I pictured Marlboro ashes

mixed with stripping fluid

on an old Racing Form spread

on his shop floor—

tobacco and solvent fumes

inciting memories of long ago

horses we’d bet not war.


Thomas M. McDade

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