Jaded and bitter
like claiming the best seat on a crowded bus
that you had to fight to get on.
Lighting a victory cigarette
to calm the nerves
as the bus rolls out of a conquered city
and you know you’ll make the last plane out of the country
because your passport is good
and you look alright
an the airport has liquor
and the trip is over.
The conclusion of a tour of duty
and all your digits still in place
and your soul only a little creased and rumpled
in need of a good laundering
(something easily accomplished with whiskey)
A stare from across the bar from a woman smoking a Virginia Slim
and caressing the stem of a martini glass
(or some such cliché)
keeps you going
even if the reality never matches up.