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N a p a l m   H e a l t h   S p a :   R e p o r t   2 0 1 4 :   A r c h i v e s   E d i t i o n






the war that never ended


floored through northern Virginia

with my car losing power

in the midst of a rainstorm

and leaving the wet highway

to the sound of truck thunder

while thinking this is the end

rolling into the station

dim, grey, lost in a damp fog

almost accepting defeat

but getting out of the car

and opening the bent hood

to look at the steel engine

to see nothing wrong at all

but checking all the fluids

and even asking the boy

who was dreamlike and moody

sort of standing near the pumps

about the situation

and he said the fluid’s fine

but it could be something else

maybe the carburetor

so he went in the station

and he got me some cleaner

to mix with the gasoline

which i most thankfully did

when i was pumping the gas

and it continued raining

then the boy said straight to me

that if I had some good luck

my problems would be over

so with the boy beside me

i went inside and I paid

but just for the gasoline

because the cleaner was free

and it was just for the moment

i saw the boy and his friends

now gathered around inside

wearing torn, grey uniforms

saying they were real sorry

about my datsun’s window

and as i opened the door

and left the eerie station

i started my weary car

and drove north into the storm

dreaming of april and the

ghosts of the confederate dead  



[This poem by Richard Wilmarth (1949-2003) was retrieved by Arnold Peterson, who oversees the Richard Wilmarth Papers at the University of Rhode Island. For more on Mr. Wilmarth’s work, see http://www.uri.edu/library/special_collections/registers/manuscripts/msg165a.xml. Originally published in NHS 2012, http://www.poetspath.com/napalm/nhs12/.]