VIETNAM WAR POETRY

  Fly-Over

                        Deep in the woods, we're laughing
                        about the '60s and '70s, and then the war comes up,
                        how we didn't welcome the GIs home,
                        derided them, pot and tattoos, beer cans,
                        the ponytails and Rolling Thunder Harleys.

                        From the hidden-most hearts on a trail
                        memories and confessions surface like that –
                        they always do, always ready to eject
                        into the ferns and galax, high into the oaks
                        and tulip poplars, jungle-like in greenery entanglements.

                        No secrets on the forest trail, no lies.

                        So, you'll believe me when I say we came upon
                        a helicopter in a clearing, a Huey that had flown in Vietnam.
                        We climbed aboard, Peg in the captain's seat,
                        me beside her feeling peculiar in a place
                        where a crazy kid had sat who'd flown wildly

                        over Mekong's rice. We flipped overhead switches,
                        toggles in front of us. Dials lit up, needles pulsed.
                        How far, how high could we go? How fast?
                        We listened for the turbine whomp, and took off
                        out of the clearing – a rescue mission over woodland,

                        where now our confessions lay exposed in sorrow.
                        From above we saw them foolish and ignorant,
                        innocent, wounded, calling for a mother,
                        bleeding, fearful of not getting home
                        of not being complete.

by Contributing Poet:     Anne Harding Woodworth   Copyright © 2014
      ( First published in   Unattached Male by Anne Harding Woodworth, Poetry Salzburg   2014 )


  Empty Nest

                        Even now—long after they've flown—
                        you relish that feeling of having time
                        for a pedicure; for listening to Vietnamese,

                        for watching other women's children at work,
                        who were mere babies like your own
                        when war happened.

                        Their sounds ricochet from mirrors
                        to plastic flowers over acetone and into you,
                        and you hear how far from home they are.

                        And you from yours, too—the old house
                        miles away—its endurance
                        in spite of the wrecker's ball:

                        The walls once wore crayon lines,
                        misshapen circle heads, misplaced eyes;
                        and at last, you hired a painter.

                        Gone to dust now—it's like seeds
                        that escape the pod, each one
                        lilting on accidental currents,

                        the way wars move from place to place,
                        the way they accumulate, shift, and—
                        like tornados—disseminate rubble.

                        You were a new mother when all those people
                        died, and now the Mekong is just a river again,
                        and a delta, nothing more.

                        Things wash over the reminders.
                        We move into other houses, absorb language
                        and lower naked feet into warm water.

by Contributing Poet:     Anne Harding Woodworth   Copyright © 2015
      ( First published in   VietnamWarPoetry.com   2015 )


  One Thought Fills Immensity

                        For Blake that’s all it takes.
                        But I need more than one
                        to fill a space magnificent like that.

                        I am all places, all animals.
                        I am the Mekong Delta.
                        I am the seahorse, marmoset and narwhal.

                        I am the brother war-dog
                        that fights on either side,
                        having no notion of being an enemy,

                        though I am the enemy in someone’s thought,
                        even as I tilt my head upwards,
                        howl with the fire engine’s siren

                        deep inside these burning confines.

by Contributing Poet:     Anne Harding Woodworth   Copyright © 2015
      ( First published in   VietnamWarPoetry.com   2015 )


Bio:   Anne Harding Woodworth   is the author of five books of poetry and three chapbooks. Her work is widely published in journals such as TriQuarterly, Poet Lore, and Painted Bride Quarterly. She lives part-time in Washington, D.C., where she is a member of the Poetry Board at the Folger Shakespeare Library, and part-time in the mountains of Western North Carolina.


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