Tuesday, April 5, 2016

DB Cox- A Poem

scene from a box
---For Mack H... Tunnel Rat/Vietnam

again, it is night
here is where i hide
from the soulless cold
a small lamp
lights the corner where i sit
there's the sound again
a junk-sick headache
thumping & ringing
& raising hell
inside my skull

i bend forward in the chair
& lay my head on the kitchen table
waiting for the drugs to kick in
when it happens
the fog clears
& some of the bad things
i sit up
tilt my head back
& stare at the peeling yellow paint
on the ceiling
i can feel the sweat
running down
from my hairline
i am sinking & rising
in slow, dark circles
my breathing is slowing down
& the nausea
is beginning to ease off
i let myself sink
like a rock
to the bottom of an abyss
where no one
can reach me

...in the mist-filled darkness
birds cry like human beings
alerting the viet cong
to our every move
the birds are like ghosts
that refuse to depart this world
above ground
threats come from every direction
any time i am moving
along a jungle trail
i can feel the holes below
tugging at the soles of my boots
the only place that i feel safe
crawling around in VC tunnels
with a .45 & a flashlight
inside, i am able
to lose the sense
of where i am
my underground sanctuary...

just to be moving
i get to my feet
walk over to the sink
& throw up
i turn on the faucet
& splash a handful of water
across my face
a sudden sense of dread
crawls along my spine
i let my hand
drop to the .45
strapped to my leg
i look toward the front door
the bolt is locked
i am safe

my headache is back
blood pounding
through constricted veins
i take a flashlight
from the top of the refrigerator
& walk down the hallway
to the bedroom

the room is empty
except for a single throw rug
the walls are bare
no curtains or shades
on the windows
glass panes
all painted gray

i bend down
& slide the rug aside
i lift the trapdoor
& step down

the cellar is damp
& smells of mold
as i move across the floor
i use the flashlight
to scan every corner
of the concrete chamber

outside the night birds
are crying

when i get to my mattress
i kneel down
& roll over onto my back
i slide the pistol
out of the holster
& lay it on my chest
the weight is reassuring
i switch off the flashlight
& close my eyes

far away pinpoints of light
come & go
my mind cannot hold them steady
tiny doors opening & closing
vague reflections
of almost-remembered places
clean, well-lit spaces
that i can imagine
but never know

the flickering fragments
drift away
they are frail
& will not last the night


  1. D.B. You've brought the war home. As it should be brought home for the unknowing, the oblivious, and the uneducated. Will they understand? That's another question. With another answer. A very powerful piece my friend. Victor Henry.

  2. Thank you Victor. It all seems like a very long time ago--I was a naive 19-year old. My friend Mack could never get past it. Gone now.

    Like Walt Whitman said: "Re-examine all you have been told."