last night three unprotected children and
their mother were shot to death in their living room
half a world away

we played a beer tent made of bricks and mortar
the local VFW hall filled with an eager cross section of a small town
from all angles they rode pick-ups, mid-sized sedans, feet

youngsters, red faced and alive, home for the summer
middle-agers, red faced and worn, both a step behind and ahead of the youth
elderly, white haired and gentle, looking back while inching forward

in the back it’s two tickets for a beer or sloppy joe
one ticket for pop, water
conversation is free, but go out front by the World War II cannon to smoke

heads leaning and hovering over the long rectangular tables
lined up in rows of cups and elbows, a phalanx of booze and friends

we fire entertainment at them
two 15 inch  top speakers and dual 200 Watt subwoofers
our barrage of pressure waves moves some to
jiggle or
grab a mate
maneuvering awkward circles; clenching one another
some dodge our friendly fire
hunkered down in the friendly trenches of conversation

the Veterans of Foreign Wars are raising money tonight
grandmothers are line dancing to songs only their kids’ kids know

It’s a Saturday night in an American small town
all is good

the 50 mm cannon at the front entrance is lightly
guarded by an almost semi-circle of smokers and
despite the music, the battle tank out front is sleeping