So Long


When Chet’s going cold

turkey, can’t work

long solos, his trio must

rescue the slack 

as Chet stalls and paces

and instead of resting

places his horn

on the barstool.

Spinning the seat

he watches soft light

ricochets off the brass

and a dim glow

of accusation play

roulette on his face,

Arm twitching

for the trumpet, he drags

long on a cigarette

before hoisting his horn

He closes his eyes,

brailles the brass,

as wandering lyrics

perch restlessly

on his tongue.

 “Every time we say goodbye,

I die a little…” 

Pistons like syringe plungers

shake him.  Death jerking

horn to mouth, he blows and blows,

blows clear of wives, lovers

and children: clear of himself.

Lost in applause Chet wonders

how long art based on Taps

can last; he traces his lucky

vein, dwells on the spitty air

streams tricked into music,

tastes the words:

“Every time we say goodbye,

I wonder why a little.”


by Thomas Michael McDade  





The man who did twelve

years says he has two

Honorables covering eight

and a Medical Discharge

for the rest that does not

state a reason but he’ll tattle

after a minute or so gabbing

that booze graced most

of his sailor days—

take that, jump ship,

use some imagination.

A mongrel in the corner stares

at him head tilted quizzically.

Civilian-wise, he’s been

DUI convicted five times

and he’ll proudly name

states, cities, fines

and incarcerations.

All that aside, he’s been doing

pretty well, dry a couple of months

but a reunion revealed

that tipsy on memories is likely

to diminish per shipmate arrival.

No Taps or Reveille,

morning delivered him

animated and unwinding

amid strong urging to enjoy

the three-egg cheese omelet

dwarfing his plate.

Managing a bite, he halts and cuts

to his first liberty in the Philippines.

Holding up three fingers he says

Count them!  All mine for a week!

My harem fought over rights

to little ole me,

butterfly knives settled

each day’s first possession!

Dangerous shit, he adds,

glancing at a pistol hanging

off a the host’s rifle rack

like a stepchild

and no one disagrees.

Many attempts to top that

account fail but a couple

of guys are too busy to compete

fashioning joints and tobacco

smokes using nifty rolling devices.

The Mongrel is named Jesse

and she barks her two-cents worth

and more as if all these sea and terra

firma tales pale against what

she could gush concerning

her existence before

adoption discharged her

honorably from a shelter.

A hunk of omelet overboard

passes for gourmet

among this howling dog

pound of a crew.  


by Thomas Michael McDade 



McDade is a former computer programmer living in Monroe, CT with his wife, no kids, no pets. He did two hitches in the U.S. Navy. He’s been most recently pulished in New Maps.

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