Friendly fire, parasites &
tropical disease, depleted
uranium lodged
under the skin, exposure
to pesticide, mustard gas,
sarin, combat stress, muscle
twitching, memory loss
& the whole host
of “mysterious symptoms”
experienced by troops
located downwind
from burning oil wells
& chemical weapons
demolition depots—
& although my father evaded
these dangers simply
because he was deployed—
quartermaster & answer man—
with a tactical airlift
refueling wing, as far
as he can figure,
the persistent ear trouble
goes back to his days
in the desert.  Who’d
need an official report
when logic alone suggests
the causes of hearing loss
are as simple as noisy
engine rooms & aircraft
uptake & of course sand
& dust & whatever drifted
into the synthetic cells
of protective plugs & Mickey
Mouse ears & if it’s his
fate to deal with systematic
antifungal treatment for
an itch that’s untreatable, so
it goes, never a bad that
couldn’t be worse. Distant
as the whir of choppers,
the what what what my father
no longer asks, having learned
to turn his one good ear
toward or away as the
conversation suits.  No doubt
you recall the ticker tape
parades, free passes for
amusement parks, cruises,
hotels & other deep discounts
by which we could show
sufficient thanks, seal our
belief in fair compensation.  
Headsong & humsickness
are a few of the names
given to earworms,
those sticky tunes you
can’t get out of your head
the product of some memory-
based cortical itch. With
luck you can locate
a good eraser tune to shift
the stubborn soundtrack.
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