Poetry: How did it feel? (NaPoWriMo day 23)

This morning, NaPo challenged me to write a poem that responds to another poet’s poem. I chose one titled “Natural History” by Leroy V. Quintana, one of five of his Viet Nam poems featured on PBS. But I could have responded to any, or all, of the five.


How did it feel?
To know you must go to Nam, to maybe die,
or go to jail, or to Canada?
To go there to kill any enemy, VC, NVA, or…?
To be overcome by fear, and to be forced
To kill anything that moved?
You’ve felt such fear I’ve never felt.
Not just some fight or flight twinge,
but big, sweaty, trembling, shit-your-pants fear,
both rational and sometimes crazy,
a fear that never goes away,
fear mixed with phenomenal anger,
when everything slows down, or stops,
where all you see, hear, feel,
smell, or taste wants to kill you, to maim you?
To suck the blood from your body?
And you can only live by killing him first,
or by not fighting, or shooting into the darkness,
or not, for fear of being exposed, or by tossing
grenades, or by friendly artillery fire so near you,
it may kill you? And most of all, how did it feel
to leave your comrades behind, to fly home
to clean clothes, a steak dinner, and
a thankless nation ignoring you,
wishing we’d all just go away? Trying to forget?


Look both ways along the path of a warrior,
that person sacrificed for the good of some system
like Capitalism, Communism, or Catholicism.
Mind the gaps for the fears and tears of real people,
both the living and the dead.

Friday Fictioneers 10-2-2020

Thanks again to cat-herder extraordinaire, Rochelle @ Rochelle Wisoff-Fields-Addicted to Purple for providing another Friday Fictioneers photo prompt. Her weekly challenge is for us to write a story (beginning, middle, and end) of 100 words or less based on a photo prompt. Thanks to Rowena Curtin for the photo.

PHOTO PROMPT © Rowena Curtin

 


Genre: Fiction
Title: Xin Loi Gonzo
Word Count: 100

***

The sun was behind him, half blinding me. Gonzo insisted on knowing why I asked to meet him so early.

He swore and moved aggressively toward me. I backed-up and said, “Some make the world a better place, some we would better off without, and some make no difference.

When he charged me, I drew the pistol, repeatedly squeezing the trigger before I could point it. He knocked me down but did not move after we were on the ground. I stood, shot him in the head, and said, “I just made the world a better place. Xin lỗi, Gonzo.”

***

Look both ways when making room and don’t bring a knife to gun fight.
Mind the gaps and keep the sun at your back.


Click for link.

Xin lỗi is Vietnamese for ‘sorry’ or in my case, ‘sorry about that.’

Poetry: Another Morning


Awakened hours before sunrise,
he must guard, lest they come and kill;
this boy filled with fear and shock,
barely 19, taught to hate and kill,
now loyal to his clan, this new family,
his only friends, his only protection
as war has become his real world.

Miserable, hardened in every way,
unsympathetic, unimaginably deadly,
drawn to flashing light, learning
what he never wanted to know, addicted
to the battle, to the intoxicating fight.

He celebrates life with death, seeks random
revenge where none is possible,
has forgotten questions, never asks why,
lives in his personal accepted hated hell.

Sunrise lifts despair from his soul.
He smiles, alone, at the light of life,
happy to survive one more night.
He looks for answers, for that part of him,
now dead because he kills without a care.
Can he ever again be who he was born to be?


Look both ways to find another view.
Mind the gaps where questions decay away.

 

Sammi’s Weekender #159: Intrepid


Alive in Manhattan

Conceived in infamy, born of the Essex clan months later, that Intrepid warrior,
called the Fighting I, she of the seas; Pacific, Atlantic, one vet of two wars.
I walked your decks, thought about men who died there.
Torpedoed. Kamikazied four times.
Now you survive, tall on the Hudson, alive in Manhattan.


Look both ways, from bow to stern, port to starboard.
Mind the gaps for a time to reload.

Essex Class WWII Aircraft Carrier – USS Intrepid