Thursday, February 17, 2011

Milton Parker Looney (1994)

Milton Parker Looney
Bryan, Texas, 1980



Milton Parker Looney

Light 'em if you have 'em: the fighting Nora's
Navy Cross fire controlman is dying, lung cancer,
hot as Christmas lights at his niece's house.
In delirium he is back on the Northampton,
just before midnight near Guadalcanal
at a surprise party for a convoy of Jap destroyers.
He's having a smoke with radioman Jason Robards,
balancing future fame and California redheads,
talking Texas horses and Galveston weekends.
Bam-Bam.  A pair of torpedoes hits the port side.
Flaming diesel fuel sprays across the Northampton.
Boxed ammo explodes, rips into Milt's side as he shoots
a rope gun at the mast to rescue a man.  Milt is nudged
awake by his pastor, teeth white as cigarette paper.


This poem first appeared in Open Range: Poetry of the Reimagined West (Ghost Road Press, 2007), an anthology edited by Laurie Wagner Buyer and W.C. Jameson.

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