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Poems - The Duke

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The Duke

by JPerry1980

The Duke

21 September 2011

My Chevy Impala roared in heat,
as the wheels sped down the old state route.
I had a new Merle Haggard 8-track,
giving life to great music with a smile,
as I munched on some BBQ pork rinds,
and took some liberal gulps from my Billy Beer.

Up ahead on my right,
I could see the car stalled on the shoulder.
The white smoke drifted from the open hood,
as a giant of a man stood observing.
I pulled over to lend a hand, more than likely a ride,
from the sight of that unseemly smoke signaling death,
while the man nodded at my arrival,
and I knew it was him the moment I heard his voice.

I couldn't hear him awfully clear with the sounds,
but I could make out the words Jap and sonofabitch,
when he slammed the hood, came up to my driver's window.
"Say, Mister, would you be so inclined to give me a ride?"
He knew I knew it was him by looking at my shocked face,
all he did was give that legendary smile,
seemed to size me up as a fan but not a crazy one,
and allowed his sizable frame to my passenger seat.

"Nearest service shop will fit the bill, my friend,
I thank you dearly for the ride, that damn car is fried,"
he commented between breathing like a dying horse.
I didn't come to know he only had one lung 'til many years later.
He saw I was downing a Billy Beer and laughed hard,
"I guess that's one good thing we're getting out of the Carters!"
He yelled and I laughed along and offered him one,
he graciously accepted and downed it in about three seconds.

"It helps with the stomach pains,"
he said with a look of sadness on his face,
me not knowing the full weight of his comment at the time,
as he looked to be all of 100 in the morning sunlight.
He looked to be about ten feet tall,
but his hands were callused and blistered,
his face was weather worn and rusty and crow's feet,
well, they captured deep digging around his eyes,
as his head almost touched the ceiling.
All and all, he was just a man like me,
an ill one from the sound of his pained breathing.

I started to call his name,
but he told me all his friends called him Duke,
and Duke was good enough for me as I was a friend,
giving him a ride as he hadn't seen another car in an hour.
We didn't talk much as I was too shocked to speak,
wait 'til I tell my gal about this was all I could think!
He asked me my name and what I did,
seemed to be interested in little nothing me,
so I jabbered like a monkey for a while,
and couldn't help myself but tell him he was a hero to me.

Luckily he wasn't peeved at my almost childish glee,
but he grunted and cleared his throat at my comment,
we shared a cigarette as we came into a little town.
"I'm no hero, son, it's folks like you who work hard and do right,
you folks are the real heroes of this world,"
he replied as we pulled into the service stop.
He offered to pay me for the ride but I refused,
though I welcomed his signing of my ball cap.

"I'm not long for this world, son, but knowing there are men like you,
well, willing to give a ride to someone out of courtesy,
it fills me with a bit of hope for the world I'm checking out of soon,"
he ended as he walked tall like a wall off into the sun of the service stop.
He turned as I was pulling out, waved and yelled out,
"Take care, pilgrim!" like a well rehearsed and cherished line.

Thirty-five years later the memory seems like yesterday,
giving a lift to Duke in his time of need,
knowing damn well I'd have done the same for anyone,
as I've done this a thousand times since and will again.
His comments on heroes and goodness have never left me,
while I still value his films like gold as I always have,
it's his waving good-bye only a year from his death I most recall,
almost as if he was waving good-bye to us all,
and through telling me the world was going to be okay,
it somehow resonates with me through the age,
that we as an American people will all be all right,
as long as we remember to do good by others day by day.

For Marion Mitchell Morrison

j.p.





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Re: The Duke (Score: 1 )
by alana on Thursday, September 22, 2011 (07:20:16)
I think the entire world will be okay if all people of the world will remember to do good by others day by day.

| Parent
    Re: The Duke (Score: 1 )
    by JPerry1980 on Thursday, September 22, 2011 (08:39:45)
    Well said, Alana. I agree. It's the little mitzvah's through the day that bring us all together as humanity.

    j.p.

    | Parent
    Re: The Duke (Score: 1 )
    by TygerTyger on Thursday, September 22, 2011 (16:16:07)
    I do To Alana. What a beautiful thought. But it's such a pitty, that not everyone thinks the same. Pete. LOl . Smile

    | Parent
    Re: The Duke (Score: 1 )
    by JPerry1980 on Sunday, October 09, 2011 (16:54:54)
    Well said, Alana. I couldn't state it better myself. It's a mitzvah, you give to others of yourself because it's the right thing to do (not because you'll necessarily get something back in turn). Thank you for reading ad commenting.

    j.p.

    | Parent
      Re: The Duke (Score: 1 )
      by JPerry1980 on Sunday, October 09, 2011 (16:55:42)
      Tyger, that was directed to you as well. Thank you for coming by to read and comment, I greatly appreciate it.

      j.p.

      | Parent

Re: The Duke (Score: 1 )
by TygerTyger on Thursday, September 22, 2011 (16:17:56)
Excellent J P. A ten and a heart. Take care. Pete, LOL .

| Parent
    Re: The Duke (Score: 1 )
    by JPerry1980 on Sunday, October 09, 2011 (16:56:06)
    Thank you again, Pete.

    j.p.

    | Parent

Re: The Duke (Score: 1 )
by omegapaf on Friday, September 23, 2011 (09:10:35)
" fill your hands, you son of a bitch " - john wayne - " true grit ".

can i tell you a story j.p.? the duke was america, when i was growing up. his movies were on t.v. every saturday afternoon. as i got older, i didn't agree with his politics, but always admired his " a mans gotta do, what a mans gotta do ", attitude. some of his world war two propaganda films look a little corny now, but at the time they served a valuable purpose in winning the war. and i've always liked a good western.
that generation of actors ( john wayne, humphrey bogart, james stuart, jimmy cagney, cary grant, edward g. robinson, gregary peck, robert mitchum etc ) can never be repeated. it's all silly soppy soap stars nowadays.
- take care pilgrim - paul.

| Parent
    Re: The Duke (Score: 1 )
    by JPerry1980 on Sunday, October 09, 2011 (17:11:56)
    Hi Paul: Thank you so very much for coming by to read and leaving one of your always excellent comments. The world just doesn't make men like John Wayne any longer, and it's a damn shame. While it's in character form, the man really is a legend and a hero to me. Men like Burt Lancaster and The Duke are in dire need in this world and society today.

    While his films can be a bit hokey as patriotic jargon today, I think they still have tremendous value in teaching us something about America when we still were (in not only image but actuality) a great nation -- once as a people we stood up to the Nazis and the Soviets both. Now days my hope for my country are not what they once were. But, I believe we still have hope - I still believe we may reach that pinnacle of being a shining city on a hill Reagan pronounced twenty plus years ago. And I still have this hope.

    I'm also a huge fan of the classics, when films really were incredible (unlike the blockbuster bullshit nonsense we have now where creativity, originality, and excellent acting and dialogue are replaced with tits and ass and special effects in blowing shit up).

    j.p.

    | Parent
      Re: The Duke (Score: 1 )
      by omegapaf on Sunday, October 16, 2011 (17:03:50)
      oh, there are a few men left, who wont compromise their principles j.p.....though sadly none of them live in hollywood or washington or london any more.
      all the special effects laden movies nowadays ( or " exploding helicopter films " as i call them ) just give me a headache. i'd much rather watch " rio bravo ", or " the searchers " anyday. i'd fotgotten about burt lancaster....yes. " the crimson pirate " anyone?
      i believe we are about the same age j.p. and remember when standing up to the nazi's and soviets meant something. rather than just randomly bombing some wandering tribesmen in some god forsaken mountainous part of the world - the duke's six shooter.

      | Parent

Re: The Duke (Score: 1 )
by Iridium on Saturday, October 01, 2011 (10:59:42)
Wonderful message with great language aswell as great details, loved it......

| Parent
    Re: The Duke (Score: 1 )
    by JPerry1980 on Sunday, October 09, 2011 (17:13:13)
    Thank you so much Jan for coming by to read and leaving a comment. This one was written with a great deal of love and heart (and hopefully it shows). As I was saying to Paul, we've lost something as a society when we lose our ability for thinking greatness and achieving.

    j.p.

    | Parent

Re: The Duke (Score: 1 )
by wordsmithwannabe on Thursday, October 20, 2011 (12:43:56)
my dad is a huge John Wayne fan, has seen every one of his movies several times over. and so have i, i suppose. his best acting, imho, was done when he spoke less and let the lines of his face do the talking. there was an emotive quality in his expressions that said more to me than any of his famous lines ever did. a great tribute to a character who will always be larger than life in this little boy's eyes...well done, as usual, j.p. take care.

| Parent


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