They never removed bodies from the USS Arizona.
No one drained the oil either.
Standing on a monument in this Hawaiian harbor,
I gaze into the ocean,
searching for gun turrets, broken staircases, a flag swaying in currents,
but briny water curtains the battleship.
Beads of oil bubble to the surface and branch out,
spreading like a palm,
reaching like fingers,
grasping for something.
Did you cheer religiously for the Brooklyn Dodgers?
Take your girl to Bogart flicks?
Did you wink in black-and-white photographs,
jitterbug, smoke slims?
Did you heal from Monday morning hangovers,
while painting calendar girls on B-52’s?
Your oily hand spreads out
Your veins now swell with cold ocean water
and that tattoo on your bicep,
the lover’s name buried deep within your skin,
fades a little every day.
The unsent letter on your tongue,
the un-rung phone call in your lungs
ripple across this glossy bay
forming black lines on beaches
ouija words rise from decay.
Brendan Praniewicz earned his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State in 2007 and has subsequently taught creative writing at San Diego colleges. He has had poetry published in From Whispers to Roars, That Literary Review, and The Dallas Review. In addition, he received second place in a first-chapters competition in the Seven Hills Review Chapter Competition in 2019. He won first place in The Rilla Askew Short Fiction Contest in 2020.