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Nine Hundred Canteens

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Big guns
shake earth beneath
cordite fog
that fills
soul void.

Three days
without nights
without end
machines rain
on poets
entangled in wire

Exploded body bits
red wet clouds and flesh
counted by canteens.

As limos vomit gowns
and black ties
whisked to ballroom stage
Oscar shines
basks in worship light
of those
who care nothing
of canteens.

(A poem I penned in memory of an event in early July 1967,
when a count of North Vietnamese canteens was necessary.)


A lament offered:
From Dien Bien Phu
to Khe Sanh


Tired eyes gaze
over paddy fields

and treed margins
beyond which
blue mountains rise

Tranquil now;

time to pause
and see

To contemplate
lies given
and taken

And lives taken

in wars we thought noble
but stood no chance
in hell of “winning”

Bury the lies

lest rage consume

and fill the abyss
with liar’s blood.


Thread of War

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Trigger finger
traces path to Iliad
and Cain
blasts me
back to dawn
where blood
olive trees of Babel
And words
are lost
on those who
never learn
as we trod
mired in
the unforgiving mud
of war


A Lament For The Fallen

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No monuments
nor marker sticks remain

‘neath shell-scarred banyans
on the plain

where thousands lie
in blood-soaked dress

in eternal rest.

No God damned flags
wave profane

where dying hordes
took their last breaths.

No honor guards
or eternal flame

no credits
for eternal pain

of those
who loved them,

except for words
in unread tomes.

Only empty words remain.


OF WAR (that is eternal)

Another netherworld journey;
melding briefly with kindred souls

whose blasted bits of scattered flesh and bone
left screams with those long silent (to others)

Children, limp and soft;
And torn (so badly torn!)
Where did they go?

After mentoring those like me
who came with arms,
and killed them?

Sleep won’t come softly;
And it shouldn’t.

— Unnamed former warrior


Landing Zone Baldwin

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Dragonfly silhouette
lifts off at dusk

Fading blades beat wind
below emerging stars

Then silence
save distant gun thunder

As night death
stalks invisible
just beyond the wire

Outside my bedroom

Just a ceiling fan this time