Decades ago my older brother, a cop at Southampton on Long Island, took me around his precinct where he’d spent twenty years. Walking through the parking lot behind his headquarters, we passed a huge WWII U.S. Army truck, a white star on each of its khaki doors, its tires reaching about as high as my chest. I could just see in to sets of chains, maybe a dozen 10’-15’ chains arranged along each side of the truck, each chain ending in a handcuff.
“What’s up with this, Sarge?” I asked.
“Kid,” he said, “all summer long these college joes have drinking parties on the beach. They go nuts, get sloshed, won’t leave. We were busting our backs breaking up fights and getting them off the sand, literally breaking our backs, bending over, wrestling with these bastards who want to show off for their girls—and some of the girls are freaks, too. So Milt”—Milt was a bruiser & one of my brother’s best friends—“had this idea. He saw some Army trucks on surplus in New York, cheap, and we got this one and got the chains and cuffs welded in, and she runs like a charm, we churn her right into the middle of the college assholes and cuff them and just drag their sorry asses the hell up to the parking lot and let them sober up.”
“Hey, I like it,” I said.
“American ingenuity,” my brother said. “How the fuck do you think we won the war, kid?”
I turned sixty the other day. When I lament how much I could have done, when I think about poems & stories I’ve lost because I’ve not been wild enough or imaginative enough or had the requisite discipline, when I think of the athlete’s body that was mine & of how currents will sooner or later sweep all of us off the dunes & out past the breakers, I like to call to mind that truck doing its equilibristic job, picture it in the process of hauling fifteen or twenty young poets from their revelries into the quiet, once again, of Time & Form.