Dead Weight

The combat vet who works the lawn has
a hole in his neck I can’t stop glancing at, dark
thumb pushed into cracked clay. Ain’t pretty,
he says and winks, and the hole in his neck

winks as he twists to pick up a rake. He
was lucky, he says, ‘cause his brother got
one too, but his, well his was in the middle
of his forehead, life-years ago

in a place where it felt not even the stones
liked them, and sand grew like nobody’s business.
Not theirs anyway. Never saw so much sun,
he can still see it when he shuts his eyes,

it’s like he can’t quite close them all the way.
He pulls up a bag of grass seed and drapes
the dead weight on his shoulder. Ain’t heavy,
he says, if you can balance it right.

- Mark Smith-Soto