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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Inevitable Disrespect

In memory of the Forrest Sherman Class Destroyers

I understand,
Respect for age,
Is limited,
But in our culture,
Even corpses,
Generally,
Are dressed,
With some,
Respect.
And so,
If you'll excuse,
An old lady,
Who,
I admit,
Is quite,
Worn out,
I'll not complain,
But I'll insist,
In reminiscing.
I'll insist,
You not forget.
For I've been,
Ridden hard,
And often put,
To bed,
Well,
Very wet.
And I deserve,
At least a thought,
Before I die.

I slipped into,
The Kennebec,
On a Maine,
Afternoon,
Cold enough,
To make the
Guests feel,
Well,
Uncomfortable.
But I went in,
On time,
And I looked,
Mighty fine.
And went to work,
A-S-A-P.

I answered every call,
Lebanon,
Formosa,
Cuba.
In Vietnam,
I was special,
I had three guns.
Those poor grunts,
On the ground,
Loved my guns.
My gunners,
Treated them,
Like lovers,
They spat fire,
On call,
And saved lives,
Pushing,
The enemy,
Back,
Way back.

My mess decks,
Fed,
Round the clock.
My sailors worked,
Round the clock,
They stood
Ten thousand
Watches,
They fueled
A thousand
Times.
I never slept.
Even when
My boilers fired,
For six,
Or eight,
Or nine,
Months straight.
And even when,
I finally,
After,
All those months,
Sailed for home,
And went
Cold iron,
I was still
Alive
With steam,
And power,
From shore.

But now,
Some how,
I'm no longer
Even called
A she,
I've lost my USS,
I'm just an
“Ex,”
It once seemed
So important
That,
Each and every
Rust spot,
Be
Blotted out
With paint.
Now there's none,
The rust streaks
Mar my sides.
That's OK.
I understand,
We can't
All be
Museums.
It's your intent,
To sink me.
No doubt
You need
The practice,
But I warn you;
Those Maine Yankees,
Now,
So long retired,
Built me
Well.
I'll go
Quietly,
But plan for,
A long,
Long day.

Copyright 2011 by Gary L. Misch

All rights reserved

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