"What dreams / Will be left / undreamed tonight?"
November 11, 2007 11:10 AM   Subscribe

For 11/11, soldiers' poems of MACV (and interstitial matter):
I can feel traces of my heart / leaving wet rivers / down my manly cheeks.

Stunned now / angry / helpless / bits of torn paper beside / empty red mailbag.

So / You averted looking directly / at their eyes / (That last graveyard / for their fears)

It's getting hard to talk to you, / You don't seem to communicate; / You get upset too easily, / I only asked what it was really like.
(Previously, previously)

More from The Vietnam Experience by Bill McDonald:
She begged us, / With her child like screams
Time slipped past us, standing in separate places / ... / He graduated cum laude / And I flunked Vietnam.
But children / My dearest children / I’ve killed / Someone else’s / children


And Bill McDonald's "Guest Poets":
I was nothing more / than U.S. Grade A American meat / used for some bureaucrat's political gain.
Weird shadows dance against the twisted strands / And men stare anxiously / Until the glare dies down and they relax once more. / It is night in Vietnam
This weekend is our reunion of the men of the 2/47 Infantry / I won’t be going they remind me of a war fought long ago / It is not memories that I seek but freedom for my sick and weary soul.
While protestors heaped ridicule upon us / And newspapers treated us with scorn / We did what had to be done / For the nation to which we were born


More from Deserts and Oases: A Veteran's Poetry, by by Jackson H. Day:
How can I tell her / about the screaming of the rockets / about the shaking of the ground close by / about the terror in the bunkers / asking if the time had really come;
I feel such anger. / I rage at all who do not know, / who have not heard, / who do not share / the burden of your pain, / the burden of our shame.
Infantry commander, eyes moist / against all resistance a tear / conquers stubbled cheek.


More:
But I left my legs in a foreign graveyard / and I leave them now as a memorial to John Wayne./ He is the only American who would have saluted me / as I was rolled unceremoniously down that ramp.

More from
Poetry of the Vietnam War by Curt Bennett:
In helpless, grim fascination, we watched him go / Plunging down through the quiet morning sun. / At the last moment, he spread his arms out wide, / Like Jesus on a cross, he swan dived and seemed to float, / For a brief moment skimming the clouds
The men lay still / In the rich, red mud / In awkward configurations. / It was difficult to tell / Which one belonged? / To which nation? / Their stiff arms / Seemed to stretch out / Reaching for each other. / It was almost, as if / Universal brotherhood / Had at last…been realized.
posted by orthogonality (8 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
They left their comrades and their youth and pieces of themselves "over there". And they leave us these poems.

If we do nothing else for our honored and our forgotten veterans today, we can at least take time to read these fragmentary experiences -- these small pieces of their souls -- that they have bequeathed us.
posted by orthogonality at 11:15 AM on November 11, 2007


I'm sorry if this seems derivative of the excellent earlier post made while I was putting this together.

I hope this post is distinguished by being made up (except for the interstitial matter on the front page) solely of poems not only about, but by soldiers, and only by those who served in Military Assistance Command, Vietnam.

Not that only soldiers can write about war, but as today is Veterans' Day, it is meet and seemly to try, insofar as it is possible, to see war and its aftermath through their own eyes.
posted by orthogonality at 11:23 AM on November 11, 2007


(That first little ∞ link has loud choral music and starts video.)
posted by mediareport at 11:25 AM on November 11, 2007


Joni Mitchell was in Vietnam?
posted by Reggie Digest at 2:13 PM on November 11, 2007


I've always been under the impression that the idea of rotten food being thrown at returning veterans, them being spit upon, etc. was untrue.

The poem from the legless vet who was pelted with rotten food struck me as particularly disingenuous, I have never heard of such a thing as actually having happened. I'm sure some/most of these are real experiences, but I have to wonder about that particular one.
posted by InnocentBystander at 2:14 PM on November 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


*cries a little tear, tries to hold back the river
posted by caddis at 3:27 PM on November 11, 2007


The poem from the legless vet who was pelted with rotten food struck me as particularly disingenuous,

Aren't you being rather presumptuous?
posted by Snyder at 6:16 PM on November 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


My brother died in France—but I came back.
We were just two colored boys, brown and black.....

posted by Rumple at 7:01 PM on November 11, 2007


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