Pointing at the Moon
Humid, jungle nights, I’d look up
through the break in dense canopy,
see innumerable stars painted on
a Pollock sky, and there on a throne sat Miller,
stoned again, pointing at the moon, a god in fatigues
teaching the platoon about Buddha’s awakening.
Miller thought that if he aimed right,
and if the drugs were pure enough,
one night his finger would touch the moon.
He never counted on that booby trap
blowing both his legs off, turning
the rice paddy around him a dull red.
It’s gone now, all of it.
I heard that patch of jungle was cleared
to make room for a Coca-Cola factory.
Miller is just bones.
The platoon never had its awakening.
And me, I only point at the moon
on nights I’m brave enough
to look at that interminable sky.
(Published in Manhattan Review)