Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Victor Henry- Three Poems


You raised hell because one of us
Left a garden hose running all night.
Afterwards, I thought of Virginia City, Montana.
The Gilbert Brewery soused
Many a cowboy in the late 1860s you said,
Your eyes red and irritated
From an all-night drinking binge.
Tobacco stained your puffy fingers yellow
As if you had been wiping war paint
On the haunches of an appaloosa.
Sometimes you forgave yourself,
Claiming over and over again
You’d quit drinking grain alcohol
And stick to beer instead. 
I never understood your pain. 
It was always blurred, hidden from view
Behind your roughhouse temperament,
Tangled up like a loose bale
Of barbed wire.


I'm wandering along Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley one Saturday morning when I see this guy stalking a young coed walking her dog.  She looks enticing and innocent in her blue sweatshirt with California Berkeley printed on it.  I can see the stalker senses his diminishing chances when she enters the BEST OF TWO WORLDS because he's excitedly playing pocket pool.  His lust appears to be lurching into discomfort like strained libido at the end of a leash.  However, today is no different than most other days.  The place is packed with punkers, prostitutes, gays, freaks, and fringe people, except that there's a troop of tourists from Wisconsin attending a regional computer software convention.  I hear a bag lady ask a few of them for a handout.  Hey mistah!  Hey lady!  You gotta quarter?  I keep my eye on the young coed and Doberman as they leisurely stroll down the street towards Cody's Bookstore.  She stops momentarily and asks a patrolman walking his beat something.  He looks like he's wearing his heart in his holster.  I catch myself staring at her like a voyeur leering uncontrollably at the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty.  Now she turns down a side street.  The stalker makes his move.  I juke and sidestep a couple browsing at a street vendor's display of silver jewelry and rush to intercept him.  However, in a matter of moments, before I arrive, the confrontation is finished.  The would-be-rapist has been both neutralized and neutered.  As he lies on the ground clutching his crotch, she is leaning forward, screaming furiously into his face.  Eat shit and die motherfucker.  Your vices just went on involuntary vacation.

They’re all here.
The President, the Vice President, the Secretary of State,
The government that sent him to war.

The politicians who claimed to vote their conscience.
His father and mother who deemed it was his duty
To protect country and family.

To make them proud.
Like his grandfather did in WW II,
And his uncle did in Korea,

And his younger uncle did in Vietnam.
But where is he?
What has he become?

He carries his sutured wounds,
Open and in sight,
As an offering

For all who can see
He is, in truth, suffering.
He has been refused admission

To the American Dream,
Ordered not to rejoin society
In his molecular state.

Told not to rejoin society
Until he gets his shit together,
Gets his Oorah back again.

For him it’s been a constant struggle,
Filling out form after form,
Expecting help from the VA,

Help from those who sent him to war.
Yet, year after year,
Leaping through hoop after financial hoop. 
Still he’s received no help.
Hardly anyone recognizes the hero warrior they sent to Afghanistan.
He’s invisible in a country that’s in sink hole financial debt.

He’s given up now.
His parents have ostracized him.
He’s crossed the thin line of demarcation

Between caring and not giving a shit.
Now, he’s not welcome in the home he grew up in.
They don’t understand his constant outbursts of anger.

His excessive drinking, the drugs he’s ingesting.
After his last rant and rave that lasted all night
They kick him out, send him to the streets.

Order him, by a police restraining order,
Not to come back
Until they recognize their son again.

Talk therapy doesn’t cure him.
Failed promises smash headlong into shattered illusions.
He yells maniacally to those

Who don’t hear him
That he will take his life,
Commit suicide,

On the front steps of city hall.
But, still, no one listens to him.
War mongers continue to build their altar of greed

Vote by vote,
Protecting their  shareholders.
In his nightmare he patrols

Another sector of the oil-enriched desert,
Killing anything that moves
In the silent shadows of his mind.

Don’t bother to answer your cell phone America
You’re too fucking late.
He came back dead anyway,

From the neck up.
Years later, like all the wars that preceded him,
His war will become nothing more than a footnote

In the Museum of Misery.


  1. "If my heart was made of stone, I could resort to the fine art of denial and deflection. I could say that I was just doing my job. I could say that it was all about getting even. I could say how fucking tired I always was because I could never let up. Constantly wired together tight, because there was no way to tell the enemy from the innocent civilians, until eventually they became one-and-the-same. But for me there is nothing left except the desire to be finished."

    Footnote to the Footnotes: Thanks for this one Victor.

  2. Vito, such powerful, moving work!