German Helmet


One of the boys lugged it to the porch.
One poked it. One cracked a joke. Then someone
gripped the rim, patted it like a dog.

And nothing happened. No yellow
burst of sulfur. Yet touching what a real live
Nazi once touched felt electric.

One by one we overturned
the neck-stunning weight on our heads,
the dark closing over

eyes ears nose deadened as the inside of a bell.
Perhaps some dull glimmer
of a thousand-year rule, the truth of killing.

But this was when we were immortal
and thought nothing
of falling down dead, getting up, laughing.