Letter to Aaron two months after his discharge

We took a ville two hours ago. 
Am on watch in a hootch now.  A dead woman
with rice-white hair sits in the corner, back
propped against the wall.   
To my left through the door, flames
billow like an illuminated mind through woods, fields, 
as if the brain needs more info
about the dividing line between
what burns and what doesn't. 
The horses will be running at Belmont soon, right? 
You once told me, 
“There’s no science for predicting winners, losers.” 
You ever think maybe there's not even a science for predicting
what a winner or a loser is?
War's screwed my head on tighter
than it was before. I have a better sense
of what make sense:
I never ate a mango before coming here
and now that I've eaten many I can't recall the taste.   
Although I don't know why, what I do recall
is the music on my grandpa’s Victrola
when I was a kid. 
He liked classical and when
I was 5 or 6, sometimes after he put on a record
I'd hear a sound I liked but didn't know
what made it, so I'd ask him
what instrument's that?
One time he answered, "Bassoon."
When I repeated the word, it felt
good in my mouth.
It still does.
Often these days, I say it out loud to myself in order to relax
when we're in country. Then
I keep traipsing forward,
trying to believe
aware of everything.




Robert Bohm was born in Queens, NY. His most recent poetry books are both from West End Press. What the Bird Tattoo Hides (2015) is a volume of poems and prose pieces written over the last 45 years during Bohm's regular stays in India, his wife's homeland. Closing the Hotel Kitchen (2011) is a volume about war, immersion in a world of many cultures, and a philosophical journey that begins in New York's streets, then expands to include Vietnam and India, and eventually returns to New York again. Altogether, Bohm's work consists of three poetry volumes, one non-fiction book and two poetry chapbooks. Additionally, Bohm has worked as a ghostwriter, concentrating primarily on cultural, political, educational and international issues.