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He sits sipping thick mushroom soup
Barrel-chested with stocky legs
In shorts with socks and sandals
His bald pate like a shiny egg
With compact stature
From leaping out of planes
Carrying a parachute on his back
Invading Granada
Attacking in Iraq
“There’s nothing like the sound of bullets whizzing past you
to make you realize you’re alive,” he says

He is the guide book
In the camouflage cover
That describes how to survive in the wilderness
With only a knife and flint

Greeting everyone who passes by name
With the easy confidence
Of a man who has learned how to take orders
Command his own passions
Control the crazed enemy

A career military man
Now retired
He spends his afternoons in the cafe
Studying to become
A high-school science teacher
Wisely knows how to handle
The wily youths
in the classroom
“You have to establish the rules and
let them know who’s boss!” he barks

His jaw juts out
He rubs his head
As he ponders plate techtonics
The tidal flows of the oceans
A new set of instructions
to teach a new set of recruits

Sitting in the same seat
Commanding a view of all who enter and leave
Why is he here every day?
“It is not good for me to be alone,”
he confides

All of us who frequent the cafe
have become his new battalion
“You know everyone!” I exclaim
“I should run for office,” he jokes

Still full of vigor
Exchanging his physical prowess
For intellectual nimbleness
He is readying for his next battle.