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Poetic License: Pedrito II

By Staff | May 31, 2017

In Memoriam Peter Paul Pacheco (Pedrito) 1924-1944


It wasn’t at all like the movies,

There was no last thing for him to tell me,

No brotherly advice, no dying wish.

I couldn’t sit through the Coming Attractions

And wait for him to come on again:

His screen was blank forever.

This was the fact of death

His cold clammy face

Made me face for the first time

In the chill of Rotella’s Funeral Parlor,

Arrayed in his coffin in khaki,

Soldier hat fitted on

To cover the wound in the head,

Killed not in battle but in accident of war,

Not in glory but in unlucky break.


For a while I remembered him

Dearly and clearly, but reminiscence

Weakened with each resurrection,

And the relentless fact kept leaving

Fewer and fewer to share remembrance;

I kept thinking of him less and less

Until hardly at all,

Until almost out of mind.

But he would appear in dreams,

Often to tell me it was all a big mistake,

His death had been faked by his superiors

To allow him to go “undercover”

And he was sorry he had made us suffer —

But when could he see his nieces?

In another dream we sat on my patio

Drinking Ruppert’s beer and reminiscing

About the old neighborhood,

He had acquired a wife and two children,

And we watched the cousins play.

But on the soundtrack of every dream

A voice like my own kept whispering:

Whose face was that you kissed in Rotella’s?

Whose grave is that in Pinelawn?


Then he stopped appearing altogether,

And for the longest time

In the feverish daylight of waking,

There were only glints of thought,

Or occasional wisps of memory

To remind me I had not always been

Without a brother.


Now as the deaths keep piling up

And the distance between us

Like daylight in winter

Grows relentlessly shorter,

He reappears in reverie

As in a sequel

To the movie I once loved,

To pick up seventy years later

From where “The End” left off,

And we get to share our manhood

And talk about women and sports,

And we are there for each other

At births, graduations, weddings

And our parent’s funerals,

And on the soundtrack of Pedrito II

A voice like his keeps saying:

“That wasn’t my face in Rotella’s,

I am not buried in Pinelawn”

But then, in sudden flashback,

The cold clammy fact of him

Intrudes in black and white,

His screen goes blank again

And there is only present and pain.


Dearest only brother,

Never father, never uncle,

Too briefly lover,

Of all who have ever lived

You are the one most like me.

Now three times longer unlived,

The life you lived still lies

Embedded in my own,

And what is left of you will remain

In whatever is left of me

Until I face for myself

The fact of death

I first learned to face

When I kissed you so uneasily

In Rotella’s Funeral Parlor,

13th Street and Avenue A,

New York City.