The Superficies of Servitude (Part One)

Monday, September 9, 2013



Nos pavidi trepidare metu crinemque flagrantem

executere et sanctos restinguere fontibus ignis.

Aeneid, Book II, lines 685-686



One: The Navy Brat Changes Schools Yet Once Again


Each morning he contrives a pledge

Allegiance to the wedged

Mutations of his chromosomes,

Devoted to the wealth of others’ homes.

With daily recitations of his credo

And commissary gravy embedding mashed potato,

The brat, no doubt, is gratified to be fed

As pigs whose greasy welfare will be bled.

One replicates the thing one is devoted to:

The servitude his father was corroded through.

Only officers’ sons beribbon patrimony.

The brat salutes his father’s twenty-year enlistment

Whose moiety’s a lunch of mayonnaise and baloney.


The Navy Brat grows fond of obscure words:

Causerie. “Doesn’t what we’re saying make total sense?”

They jeer and tsk. Only to a bloated recidivist

Of absurdity, he wants to say, but playing dumb

Only proves their rules as jokes to be abused.

His disrespect is meant, since nothing else

Impales their mawkishness. He’s little more

Than excrement in their eyes.  “You listen to me well

Small brat, inhale the smell of firm shit,

And praise the way it masticates your spit.”

Move here, sleep there, dangle from the rim:
The charisma of asthma strangles him.

His soul is insubordinate

To that which he should love as prickling fate:

Strange agony he hardly could endure

That now seems nothing more

Than penitential blur.


A chaplain listens to abhorrent

Sprees of sailors sloshed.

The fleet, in port, recoils.

As turrets mount a current,

The distant shame grows hushed —

The brat no longer needs their horns

To jazz his muted moan:
He’s got the suppurating forlorn blues.

His daddy’s headed out on a one-way cruise.

Butchwax shimmers; hormones rave;

Who’s there

to teach the eldest how to shave?

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