It’s odd what you can hear from SEALs

especially if they think you like ‘em


in the spring of nineteen hundred and sixty seven,

they did,

you think,

think you and your friends all liked them,

in part because you were musicians

and might be as crazy as them.



who else but musicians who liked them

would sneak out

in the middle of the night

to play hot licks in the fog 

while SEALboys –

boys who’d been tossed off boats

a mile or two beyond the breakers

and told to swim home on their own –


their bedraggled asses

out of the tide-turning sea?

“Training” they called it.

And they were grateful for the music.

“America’s professionally amoral” you and your friends called them,

but never to their faces.

You were way too polite for that and,


their existence made you



Yep, it’s odd what you could hear at the USO

in the spring of ‘67,

especially if you’d all been doin’ rowdy drinkin’

with a little weed sucked in to boot,


just for example,

you might hear

that the Gulf of Tonkin

was a lie and lotsa people knew it,



because it really happened,

the SEAL,

the one across the table,

would say

he just got

a fresh imported package

from a friend and

“See this here?

This here’s an ear.

It’s Charlie’s ear, but that VC won’t miss it.

My friend took good care a’that.”


And it’s odd what you think

when the stars come out above the beach

in April of ‘67,


How many ears is too many?


What can I do to stop it – I mean short,

of course,

of standing up to the SEAL

who is,

of course,

our most elite


(Not to mention all his friends are in the bar

and they don’t like it when you cross ’em,

not even if you’re a musician.)



late in April,

way late in April of ‘67,

you spit on your shoes,

put on your best dress uni,

leave without leave,

and reenter the world you call “real”

in order,


to visit a girl.

She’s Quaker.

You ask her

what a spit-shined



can do

to call out the lies

and stop the war

so you can save the lives of your friends

before they,


start sending home ears.

And when your mother calls

to see if “that’s where you’re hiding”,

it’s the first time you hear the word