By Jim Heck

Bought in Vietnam in 1964,
this small plastic
red and blue ball,
is orphan as my woe.

In my hand
this gift becomes warm,
embodies possibles.

Worth to you, love for me
touched by you, chosen,
thought about,
makes your love concrete.
I can scrawl our names in it,
bounce it, carve it in a tree,
fall asleep in its arms.

This collage
I'm constructing of you,
kindergarten plaster hand printed project,
makes me have to wash my hands twice
before I hold my son
for fear of the heartache rubbing off.

This is all I will ever
have of you, papa,
silhouette of your ghost.


By Jim Heck

Scholars dispute the color
of the hungry ghosts light:
red or yellow.

Stop or proceed with caution.

Red sky at night, rust never sleeps,
nickname was "rusty,"
strawberry blond with a red beard.
Never saw the light,
taught to be a gluttonous savior.

Stop or proceed with caution.

Stopped to die in Ca Mau,

life leaked out of the bullet holes
thousands of miles from home,
hungry, abandoned, ignored
& forgotten you wander.

Stop or proceed with caution.

Stopped fast for a yellow thought I saw a cop,
brake lights unseen
no third eye, hit from behind
bleeding crimson
in a flipped over jeep,
smelling gas.

I shook the hand
of the man that hit me.

Stop or proceed with caution.

Stopped the feelings of fear,
anger and greed that causes
man to die, kill, wander
eternal red light pretas.

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