Navy Whites

i woke up hung over
my dad was at the door
handed me an envelope
full of money

let's go get
a hamburger, he said

we sat in the shade
and i listened to my dad
tell his old navy stories

the apple didn't
fall far from the tree

my dad had joined the navy at the
last minute

so he wouldn't get
his ass blown
off in Vietnam

he was a coward

and i'm proud of him
for that

if he'd been stupid
and brave
i might not have
been born

and what a shame
that would be

he just chased whores
and got drunk as
often as possible

french women following
the fleet

and my dad drunk
stomping grapes
in greece
in his navy whites

crashing rented cars
in italy just for the thrill of it
and hitchhiking thru
the united kingdom

smashed some guy's
face with a fire extinguisher
in the mess hall

when it came time
for his punishment
he made a deal with
his superior officer
that he'd eat a cigar
to get out of
the heat

ate the thing
and then vomited
all over the officer's
desk and uniform

that was my dad

he knew that
there's no such
thing as a war hero

and he knew
that honor wasn't
about putting
a bullet in someone's head

i look at him now
and he's old

he has bad credit

he doesn't

he has his young wife
and his dog
and pictures of his
dead parents
and his dead friends
tacked up
on the walls

he sees me hung over
with holes in my pants
greasy hair
no shower
no shave

and he asks me
how i'll pay my rent

and i say, i dunno...

he shakes his head
the apple didn't
fall far from the tree,
he says.