Monroe enlisted in ’43.
He rides the train now,
Herman to St. Louis to Springfield.
A dozen different pins inhabit
the pinstripes of his suit,
and he has a story for every stop.
In Italy GIs would sell ten-cent packs
of cigarettes for ten dollars,
and the girl who was waiting for him
married another fella.
They still fooled around
until the day she died,
and Monroe waits for his stop,
retired from upholstery by a heart attack,
never having been to Wrigley
or New York,
a monument avoiding all others,
decelerating life measured in
wavelengths of trackside telephone wire.
He says it’s as good a unit as any other,
and we are all a slackened sum.