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At the Vietnam Memorial

  • The last time I saw the name Paul Castle
  • it was printed in gold on the wall
  • above the showers in the boys’
  • locker room, next to the school
  • record for the mile. I don’t recall
  • his time, but the year was 1968
  • and I can look across the infield
  • of memory to see him on the track,
  • legs flashing, body bending slightly
  • beyond the pack of runners at his back.
  • He couldn’t spare a word for me,
  • two years younger, junior varsity,
  • and hardly worth the waste of breath.
  • He owned the hallways, a cool blonde
  • at his side, and aimed his interests
  • further down the line than we could guess.
  • Now, reading the name again,
  • I see us standing in the showers,
  • naked kids beneath his larger,
  • comprehensive force — the ones who trail
  • obscurely, in the wake of the swift,
  • like my shadow on this gleaming wall.
George Bilgere

“At the Vietnam Memorial” was originally published in Bilgere’s collection Big Bang. His most recent book of poems is The White Museum, chosen by Alicia Ostriker for the 2010 Autumn House Poetry Series. He received a Pushcart Prize in 2009 and won the May Swenson Poetry Award in 2006 for Haywire (Utah State University Press). His poems are heard frequently on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac, and he has appeared as a guest on A Prairie Home Companion. He teaches at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. “At the Vietnam Memorial” is printed by permission of the author.

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  • The last time I saw the name Paul Castle
  • it was printed in gold on the wall
  • above the showers in the boys’
  • locker room, next to the school
  • record for the mile. I don’t recall
  • his time, but the year was 1968
  • and I can look across the infield
  • of memory to see him on the track,
  • legs flashing, body bending slightly
  • beyond the pack of runners at his back.
  • He couldn’t spare a word for me,
  • two years younger, junior varsity,
  • and hardly worth the waste of breath.
  • He owned the hallways, a cool blonde
  • at his side, and aimed his interests
  • further down the line than we could guess.
  • Now, reading the name again,
  • I see us standing in the showers,
  • naked kids beneath his larger,
  • comprehensive force — the ones who trail
  • obscurely, in the wake of the swift,
  • like my shadow on this gleaming wall.
George Bilgere

“At the Vietnam Memorial” was originally published in Bilgere’s collection Big Bang. His most recent book of poems is The White Museum, chosen by Alicia Ostriker for the 2010 Autumn House Poetry Series. He received a Pushcart Prize in 2009 and won the May Swenson Poetry Award in 2006 for Haywire (Utah State University Press). His poems are heard frequently on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac, and he has appeared as a guest on A Prairie Home Companion. He teaches at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. “At the Vietnam Memorial” is printed by permission of the author.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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