Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Victor Henry- Three Poems

During the Vietnam War two thirds who went enlisted
For years now I’ve longed for
The executive secretary, the principle clerk,
To understand that her decisions were the reasons why twelve men
From my hometown died in Viet Nam.
That Congress had not formally declared war,
That there was no clear and present danger,
That there was no need to impose a draft
That I need her to explain to me
Why I was drafted when others were not.
That her signature on my induction notice
Was like a death warrant.
Old matriarch and executioner,
You could have been anybody’s mother or grandmother,
And I wondered then, as I do now,
How many of your sons and grandsons got drafted.
How many died in the red dirt and monsoon mud of Viet Nam.
A medivac chopper flies
On a slant into a cold LZ
To pick up a Lt. Col,
Two Brigade majors
And three wounded grunts.
The dead brass lay
On ponchos
In the pouring rain,
Droplets streaming down
Their freshly shaven faces.
Three WIAs,
Scared and bleeding,
With stomach and leg wounds,
Beg for a ride out,
Pleading for a freedom bird
Like grunts near the end
Of their tour.
Men scramble to load the wounded
While the dust off chopper
Sits shimmying and shaking.
The chopper pilot
Waves them off,
Points to the KIAs,
The index finger of his flight glove
Swaggering like a short-timer’s stick.

I’m in a bunker with two other guys pulling perimeter guard duty during Tet. We’re on the last twenty-four hours of a seventy-two hour berm guard.  So far we’ve killed a couple of rats the size of softballs. I’ve seen small shapes in our Starlight Scope, Viet Cong monkeys scavenging for food.  During the night an officer entered our domain without announcing himself, checking to see if we were asleep and almost became a statistic.  From then on we’ve only heard from him on the lima lima landline. When the ammo dump at Long Binh blows, the Stork and I are smoking opium laced joints.  We see the moon, a big spotlight, moving back and forth in the distance like a hover craft.  We think we’ve won the Nobel Prize for deciphering the true meaning of FTA.  In the morning we inspect what we’ve written on the sandbag wall outside our bunker.  We’re pleased with our work, coming up with such profound descriptions, such as Feed the Aardvark, Feel the Abyss, Farm the Air. 

1 comment:

  1. Once again, Victor shares powerful work expressing stark emotions.