I was drinking at the Legion

The place wasn't really busy

But there was one man at a table

Who made me really dizzy

He was waving all around the room

He was really in a zone

The funny thing about it

He was sitting all alone

He spoke in quiet whispers

And he heard silent replies

From chairs that sat there empty

He heard their mournful cries

He had a beer before him

But he never left his chair

And no one sat beside him

It's just like he wasn't there

So, I went about my business

Playing darts and shooting pool

Buying tickets for the meat draws

Watching young ones acting cool

The other active members

Who'd spent some time in battle

Always checked to see his beer was full

As he sat there spouting prattle

It's unwritten at the Legion

You never ask about the war

You just revel in their company

That's what the place is for

There's veterans who'll tell stories

Of years gone bye and bye

But, you never ask a question

"Did you see somebody die?"

The Actives know their station

The young ones though do not

It's because of all the Actives

They've got all that they've got

As time went on I wondered

The story of this man

So , I went and asked the barkeep

He said "I'll tell you what I can"

He served two brews and wiped a glass

He stood flashing a smile

"You'd better grab a chair my boy"

"This here might take a while"

I sat and listened as he talked

About this man distressed

He told me "His name's Harold"

"And you can say his mind is messed"

"I've been working here for twenty years

And he's been here twice that

He's never moved from that damn chair

That's where Harold's always sat"

He got up once to fill a glass

And then came back to me

"When I came here, I had just got home

"I'd been fighting overseas"

"From what I heard at first" he said

"Harold's always been that way"

"And as you can see from watching"

"He'll always stay that way"

"He's lost inside his mind you know

To June 6  in forty four"

"We both know that as D-Day

"But he knows it as more"

"It was Juno Beach from what I've told

he landed with his squad

Over 14,000 Canadians

And now most lie with God"

I then got up and went outside

I said "I need a break"

I went out for a cigarette

For this tale had made me shake

I went back in, got two more beers

And sat right down again

"His whole platoon went down that day

They'd lost 3,000 men"

"There was Harold and 300

"others who survived"

"But living life inside their heads"

"I think they'd wished they'd died"

"He lives with Jean, his sister"She's been there all his life

"She put her life on hold for him

"She's never been a wife"

"She pays me for his beer every month

"And says to keep some for me

"But a penny's never crossed my bar

"You see ...Old Harold drinks for free"

"I give her money now and then

"I say he won a draw"

"Just for showing up each day I say

"just that and nothing more"

I went and grabbed a bar rag

And I wiped my teary eyes

I then paid for my drinks and

I left fifty bucks besides

He said your bill's eight fifty

What's all the extra for?

I said that he could keep it

Or just put it in his draw

He nodded and he smiled

And I left the bar for home

And as I left I watched poor Harold

On Juno Beach, his mind, his home

I came back three months later

And I saw no Harold there

There was now an empty table

And now, four empty chairs

"Dear God, it's you"....the barkeep said

"Grab your coat, come with me"

"Harold died on Saturday"

"And his funeral's at three"

He died a war time hero

But still a prisoner all the same

And down at our old Legion

Very few knew Harold's name

When we got out to the gravesite

I expected to see more

But there was just Old Harold's sister

The priest and us two...made it four.

We said a prayer, and sang a Hymn

He was back with his Platoon

He was back on Juno Beach again

Where his life ended that June

It's a shame that no one came out

To see him on his way

But, there'll be me and Bill the barkeep

Every year and on this day.

#war   #death   #the   #america   #street   #ptsd   #soldier   #legion   #bartender   #harold  
Ellie Belanger
Ellie Belanger
Sep 28, 2015

When I was thirteen,
You told me I should go and rent a movie on VHS,
Harold and Maude.
You said I was Harold incarnate.
You asked me almost everyday
If I had seen it yet.
I went to the Internet,
And read the synopsis. I thought it was a dirty movie.
The kind my conservative, Republican mother probably wouldn't rent
For me.
So I lied to you.
And you asked me questions,
Made jokes I pretended to understand,
I laughed and shook my head and blushed.
I watched it two weeks ago, and loved it.
And now that you're dead
I wonder...
Were you Maude?

#love   #friendship   #youth   #maude   #harold  
 
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