the guy in the Vet Center who’d started dreaming
about those hootches he used to crawl into
in the dark and cut throats and the visits he gets
when the President passes through town
and the “mystery” babies
people’s old ladies kept having and
the divorce papers they’d get after she’d moved,
sold the house, and bought a new car and the way that
peckerwood was almost too ashamed to say “Thanks”
after I’d saved his life
or the parties where everybody brought a fifth and
nobody left till all the soldiers were dead
and ol’ Bear wanting to shoot the lieutenant
(which wasn’t a bad idea but he was
too nice a kid to have to do the time)
so I took it away from him or
the night they brought the VC in
(labor detail
on their way to the Chieu Hoi Center
for some R&R) and
nobody told us they were coming
so the bolts going back on the 16s
sounded like a cricket convention
as I scoped the skinny fuckers out real good
and not one came up to my shoulder
or had any real meat on him
and I could have punched them all out real easy
and they looked just like the hired help
but they weren’t scared and just kept
watching me watching them until one laughed and
put a V of fingers
and then a thumb and forefinger to his mouth so
I tossed them a canteen and some Say- Lems
and we all smoked and
I didn’t even ask for the pack back

Vietnam Generation Journal, Volume 4, Number 3-4, November 1992

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