grandfather's snap fingers crossed, coiled
skinned together like burn, like oily flakey—
he croaks and moans stories: hes an iguana
"kraut vets, stump legs, huddled in slanting doorways
faces lit in lantern light"—he say: I see:
[oily, hair gloss side swept, eyes deadened, morphine slack]
—"lousy bastids," he say, "Prague was worse off, then."
"city of stone and gargoyles," he say, "beggars got wrapped-up
faces and bow groundward, hold out their hands—silent."
[at night—cantina night—beneath player piano click,
and echo, beneath red-paper lanterns
he'd kick the kraut vets in their stumps, toe 'em with his boots
when he passed by, spit
crack his coiled knuckles and mug a chewlip]
"rot," he say, or said he said. "vermin!"
he a tough old man, that guy, I know
and his stories sound old as the wind—thas his words, not mine.
but that ain't it, really—no. I don't listen sometime
sometime I just let myself see.
"beggars there had guts—got guts," he say.
"unlike them fucks with the stump legs, them that got
skulls on the hilts uh'der knifes."
[knuckles redraw in the lantern light] this comes through
his words, visible in the black of iguana's eyes,
[he bends down, steals, unsheaths uh stump's knife.
the stump on the ground too gone to protect hisself, and
—those kind that slump in doorways—
the iguana, he stabs the kraut between the ribs widda skullblade]—
like I say, this is easy to see, in his eyes,
under the light: my grandfather.
you know so 'cause the way his fingers shake.