Old Dogs

TOO CLOSE


I'll admit it

it did
get to me

seven years
in the Coast Guard
had taken their toll
and I was
actually proud
of an advancement
after being mired
for five years
in the same rank

"it doesn't make
any difference"

I told everyone

"I'll still have
the exact same job"

but
the pay
WAS better
and the assumed status
that I had
tried so earnestly
to devalue
in the past
all of the sudden
felt fairly
good

it felt
SO good
in fact
that plans
began to take form
and for the first time
I understood the term
"lifer"
as I thought ahead
to further advancements
and an eventual
retirement
at a relatively
early age

fortunately
for me and the Guard
all of that reverie
came to a rapid halt
only nine months later
finished off by a weekend
of overindulgent drinking
and a crashing fall
through a formerly
suspended ceiling
giving my
aspiring career
a tragi-comic turn
toward
an accelerated
ending

I must
have looked
quite the clown
staggering down the corridor
coated
in a fine white dust
the remaining residue
of crushed
ceiling tiles

a ghostly apparition
heading to the bar
to gulp
one
last
beer
before the wrath
of the command
fell heavily upon me
like a large bucket
of steaming
shit

I see now
that they did me
a tremendous favor
by busting me
in rank
mercifully delivering me
from the parasitical grasp
of assumed authority
and egotistic
forays

they
freed me
a year later
to a civilian life
of no rank
no uniform
no haircut
and suddenly no job
but I salute no one
and when I wake
in the morning
I can
laugh at
that drunken ghost
of my
past