Pictures At Five by Bill Cushing

(for D. K.)

Kneeling on the floor,
thumbing through the albums
around me, I see
the pictures:
at five, on Santa’s knee;
your first sailor’s knot
in Cub Scouts;
tuxedoed for a prom. Then
you joined a different promenade,
one of brown and tattoos.
Now you bunk with
eight others in Ramadi.
Yesterday, Christmas Eve,
you called your mother and

That’s when I heard
of the insurgent
who came at you, pistol bared,
shooting, and you,
with your M16
“not readily available,”
grabbed your knife to spare
your life. These are
not the times
I wanted for my son,
so I went back to these old shots
and remembered those days
to avoid the images I now endure
until, God willing,

© 2016 Bill Cushing

This piece was originally published in West Trade Journal


Follow Bill

Bill Cushing grew up in New York City but has lived in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Florida, Maryland, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico before moving to California. As an undergrad, he was called the “blue collar” writer because of his years working as an electrician on oil tankers, naval vessels, and fishing boats. He earned an MFA in writing from Goddard College in Vermont and teaches at East Los Angeles and Mt. San Antonio colleges.

His short stories have appeared in Borfski Press, Newtown Literary Journal and Sediment. He has also published creative non-fiction, poetry, reviews, essays, and articles in various print and internet publications. When not teaching or writing, Bill works with a musician in a project called “Notes and Letters.” He invites anyone interested to visit and “like” their Facebook page.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.