O'Toole in Heaven
by tiff holland

    No doubt the God of his childhood will come for him,
    despite the killing, war another sort of religion, after all,
    and the profanities, including those impossible
    for corporeal beings, because it's obvious
    he didn't mean any of it, just trying to survive
    through World War Two at seventeen, and
    Korea and two years of Vietnam, an old man by then or
    at least an adult.

    All the eighteen year old G.I.s
    would have called him Old Man.
    Although the pictures of him, smiling,
    shirtless, with a monkey on one shoulder
    and a beer in one hand, look awfully young,
    and jungle-thin, the rot not just affecting the feet,
    but the whole man, or that's what he said,
    as little as he talked about any of it.

    Most of his stories ended up with him drunk,
    fed up, punching out a superior officer and
    demoted again, but it won't be that way now.
    I figure he'll hit it off with Jesus.
    I can picture the two of them,
    O'Toole in his favorite cowboy boots,
    ankles crossed, arms crossed,
    standing beside Christ, leaning against
    some cool car, checking out chicks.

    Maybe they'll go drinking
    at some ethereal post of the VFW
    where they'll play cards, compare scars:
    crucifiction, agent orange and shrapnel
    all blending together as they drink
    in the near darkness and smoke,
    pouring whiskey from a bottle
    shaped like a hula girl,
    and it will be OK, because Christ
    has been waiting for him.

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