go figure
James Lineberger

his name is william gaddis.
if this were fiction some people
the few who have ever read
gaddis will think the name was appropriated for
some reason or other to be
discovered later on perhaps even buried
in the narrative but no
that is simply the man’s name and he himself is unaware
of any writer named gaddis
and the william was his father’s brother who died
in world war ii during the omaha beach
landing one of the unfortunates
who caught a round just as the ramp fell open
and now this william the ii
crouching a bit like a cautious warrior himself
gets out of his car
and stands under a jack pine to remove his clothes
in the moonless night lit only
by the glow of a string
of christmas lites at the roof’s edge of a boathouse along
the shores of lake norman. squatting
indian fashion he duckwalks amid a group of flat-bottom
pleasure boats moored at the pier and unfastens them laboriously one
by one pouring gasoline over them
and setting them on fire before casting them adrift in the cool dark
where they leave little trails behind them twinkling
against the corpses
of dead trees on the horizon uprooted by bulldozers to make way
for another group of those mansions
which are becoming as bland and indistinguishable from one another
as their suburban brothers. the lake police
will decide the burned boats are the work of teenagers
perhaps even the spoiled children
of these noveau riche themselves but what of gaddis
whose body will be discovered weeks later
dead of exposure
in an unheated one room walk-up in new york
wearing his uncle’s ill-fitting combat
fatigues and a posthumous bronze star
clutching his only companion a frozen stiff-legged pomeranian
its tongue stuck to his face in a final vain gesture
of love.

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