R&R in Sydney, 1970

I wake from a dream of Mandy
and teeter down the hall
to take a morning piss.

She was a lithe and willowy Kings Cross
honey at the Whiskey à Go Go,
full of sass and licorice whip gyrations.

She could change her color
like a cuttlefish
flopping on Bondi Beach.

Will you marry me?
Take me to America.
I’m serious.
I will love you forever.

A case of the clap
and the applause of pain
came a week later.

I squirted razor blades
and cursed her name
in waves of syncopated screams.

An echoing urinal
back in Quang Tri
became my confessional.

Bruce Sydow

Bruce Sydow’s works have been published in literary reviews, journals, and anthologies, including Proud to Be: Writing By American Warriors. He received his master’s degree from the University of Washington. He has taught at Chapman University and Saint Martin’s University, among other colleges, was elected Professor of the Year twice, and holds the Excellence in Teaching Award. Bruce is a former U.S. Marine, and the recipient of the United States Air Medal, the Combat Aircrew Wings, and the Cross of Gallantry.

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