Peacetime Casualty, 1940

My first father was all preparations
for the well-timed world war he failed to fight.
Why did he leave me no decorations?

He punched out his playmates, made reputations
with touchdown heroics, the cheerleaders’ knight,
joined after-school clubs for more preparations,

Boy Scouts and Sea Scouts, his justifications
for Midshipman, Ensign, a future so bright,
left me diplomas for wall decorations,

then made out quite well at cohabitations,
chance father by day, in the night sybarite,
his proud blues parading great preparations,

a drunken car wreck that stopped assignations,
his martinet father left on the drill site,
a closed coffin funeral, no decorations.

Death in the war would have left compensations
of medals, citations, a hero upright,
full realizations of armed preparations.
Why did he leave me no decorations?

Tom Roby IV