“August Nights – Another Eulogy” by Doug Miller

I've earned this sadness, hide hardened and tanned,
With ancient sins never truly paid for,
With trails of betrayal and flippant wounds delivered
To ones loved and left behind,
To embittered souls who still damn me
With their evening prayers.

"Fie, fie... a soldier and yet afeared..."
And yet fear is but the crux and driving force –
Hidden beneath this physical belligerence,
This offhanded arrogance casually delivered,
This cloak of deceit, frail harbor of battered ships,
Pretense of fools and blemished ones.

The building heat of late summer evenings
Is unabated by alcohol or regret.

Once there was a face, and a wounded heart,
An orphaned beauty in need...
And she would accept me, and hear me out,
Mirror the longing and the lack
Of that essential bit... long ago,
In the dawn
Of what devolved to this.

The core of Hell is surely made
Of evenings like this,
Begrudging night, or relief of any kind.
Before dawn, I'll run the path that separates
Canal and river, and think of her...
Of the waning days of an old and broken man,
And the shortened stride, and the altered pace,
And of the paths taken to this place.