VIETNAM WAR POETRY

  Three years after my father's final deployment to the Gulf of Tonkin

                        In first grade we spent our free time drawing
                        on big sheets of soft urine-colored paper
                        the kind that would tear with no sound
                        like a piece of American cheese—
                        it would even muffle the sound of the pencil
                        darkening the page.
                        The other girls drew houses and people
                        I and the boys drew planes
                        dropping bombs. Were there people
                        on the ground? I just remember the difficulty
                        of drawing good planes. Because we were
                        drawing them from another pilot's point of view—
                        you saw the side of the plane, the cockpit,
                        and the bombs squeezing out the rear
                        like turds—but how to show the wings?
                        The wings were even worse than
                        the girls' task of drawing feet and noses.

by Contributing Poet:     Ann Quinn   Copyright © 2016
      ( First published in   Bethesda Literary Festival contest for a year after winning 1st prize   2015 )


  Antiphon: Catonsville Nine, a soldier

                        The group spoke individually
                                  I overheard a reference to me as a baby-killer
                        during the 10-minute burning period
                                we were met with protesters at the gate
                        about their objections to warfare and social injustices
                                with a barrage of tomatoes
                        They also joined hands in a semi-circle and repeated the Lord's prayer
                                in both the Seattle airport and the Denver airport I was spat upon
                        accompanied by licking flames.

                             Catonsville Times,   May 1968
                             Sgt. David E. McCray,   Vietnam veteran

by Contributing Poet:     Ann Quinn   Copyright © 2016
      ( First published in   VietnamWarPoetry.com   2016 )


  Navy Junior
Lemoore, California, 1967

                             1.   Digging to China

                        Days we play indoors,
                        away from the heat and smog.

                        Evenings, I climb the jungle gym
                        my father put together

                        Like a big sturdy
                        Tinkertoy.

                        I dig in the backyard sand
                        with a spoon.

                        Digging to China
                        my mother says.

                        the grown-ups talk about
                        Indo-China
                        where the fathers are now.

                        I dig harder.


                             2.   First Stitches

                        My beloved rocking horse
                        on springs, a bucking bronco.

                        Grandmother watching us
                        while mother joins father
                        in Japan, the carrier docked
                        for two weeks.

                        (What a strange thing is a war
                        that you can take a vacation from.)


                        I rear back into a brick
                        garden wall.

                        The warm blood, grandmother
                        frantic, the ether,
                        the black stitches
                        painless.

by Contributing Poet:     Ann Quinn   Copyright © 2016
      ( First published in   VietnamWarPoetry.com   2016 )


Bio:   Ann Quinn's  father was a Navy pilot in Vietnam, 1966-1968, with VA-94 off the USS Hancock. She is a writer, teacher and clarinetist, living in Catonsville, MD, with her family. She is working towards an M.F.A. in poetry with the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University. She won first prize in the 2015 Bethesda Literary Festival Poetry Contest, judged by Stanley Plumly and has been a Pushcart Prize nominee.


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