The highway in a heat wave took its toll,
but everybody I know took the train.
The Drum and Bugle Corps prepared to roll
through downtown Lake Hopatcong in the rain.
Their uniforms left hanging on the bus
looked more or less like locals at the curb
in colors that refuse to run through mud.
The brass was vulgar, nonetheless superb.
The snares went snap, the kettledrum went thud
like something primitive in all of us.
A donnybrook ensued. The big event,
portended by a nuclear eclipse,
was sweet release, a blood and muscle vent
that opened wider than our candy lips.
The band from Sparta bled like Spartacus.
Rick Mullin’s poetry has appeared in various journals and anthologies, including American Arts Quarterly, The Raintown Review, The New Criterion, and The Dark Horse. His latest collection, Lullaby and Wheel, was published by Kelsay Books in 2019.