Mark Tulin

Inside the Boarding Home

My father won’t tell me
what happened in Vietnam,
he just asks me to roll him
another joint,

and likes to talk about
the Beach Boys
and other music that mattered
in the time of exploding
shells, and dirt flying

At the Veteran’s hospital,
my father gets therapy
and all the medications
he needs to survive another day
in his boarding home,

where he cooks breakfast
on an old iron skillet,
balanced on a hotplate
I taste his scrambled eggs
and two strips of bacon
and thank him for his service.

Wheeling in a Supermarket

Rolling steady
Do it over a curb or uphill
I find it easier to wheel backward
in Ralph’s parking lot

Just hope someone sees my flag
and my Vietnam veteran cap,
so one of those 16-cylinder Maserati’s
don’t accidentally leave me for roadkill

Once inside of Ralph’s,
I wheel around the fruits and vegetables,
get wedged between the soups and pasta,
and grab a sample of nachos and avocados

Sweat pouring down my brow,
can’t carry these groceries on my lap
I have to tie it to the back of my chair—
weighing me down

I keep rolling past the check-out counter,
saying hello to the boy who collects carts,
and saluting the security guard
who keeps order in the parking lot

As I make it over a steep hump,
I keep my wheels steady
I’ve flipped over more than once,
but always manage to get back up.

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