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Requiem for a Bugler Boy

by John Solensten

Just down the street
(the street where I lived)
he blew his horn
on the ’41 summer dawn,
doin’ a tripplin’ tongue
run, run, run
in the first light
on the tall board houses.
And they (some of them)
called him Johnny Gabriel.
And some complained, “Johnny, it’s too much,
too early! Go play in the
Army or Navy or go down, down
to the river’s brown
music hall! Go down where
only the turtles can hear
your call!”
Yes, and then it was
’42 and a Navy band
and
the Yorktown sailed off Midway
and went down, down
in an orchestra
of torpedo and bomb—
Johnny
holding his horn
at his heart
while the ship went down down
into dark tides
where sea turtles glide
and no horns play.