Vietnam Remembered

                        I rose from the seat that hot March day,
                        To a strange, foreign land a half globe away.
                        I thought to myself, "This place smells like shit",
                        But too numb to say or think more on it.
                        The air was heavy, so humid, so thick;
                        I feared Id collapse before walking a click.
                        Departing the plane we were ordered to stand;
                        Forming two ranks by a shouted command.
                        "Attenn-hut! Salute!" Came the ordering cry,
                        We snapped to respect without knowing why.

                        Facing the gangplank, in withering heat
                        Wondering what "lifer" we'd been pressed to greet.
                        Fighter jet banshees screamed by so loud;
                        As we sweat in silence, our minds in a cloud.
                        Trucks moved in slowly and stopped near our plane;
                        We stiffened salutes knowing we're in the game.
                        Men jumped down quickly to the loading prepare,
                        No lifers? No hotshots? No big-wigs were there.
                        Only just boxes ... handled gently with care.
                        Long wooden boxes took the seats we left there;
                        As we watched and saluted and stood there steadfast.
                        The boxes were carried, through our vigil they passed.
                        We all too soon knew without uttering a sound;
                        The reason our lines were formed and held this ground.

                        Our brothers were leaving.
                        They are going home.

                        Not to hear speeches or fanfare or praise;
                        Not to hear taps as they're placed in their graves.
                        Not to get married, have children or dreams fulfilled;
                        But wait in our shadows, their gardens untilled.
                        Sleep well my brothers, your hell is over.
                        "Atten-hut! ... At ease, men!"
                        Gasping for breath and sweating like rain;
                        We heard a voice call out a sardonic refrain:
                        "Welcome to Vietnam, gentlemen."

                        So many years have passed since that day;
                        I boxed up those memories and stored them away.
                        Many worse memories are packed along side;
                        I wonder what's real and what still I hide.
                        Long wooden boxes locked up so tight;
                        But magically open on some sultry night
                        They dance in my visions, they screwed with my head;
                        They shriek in my nightmares, their screams I so dread
                        Blurred faces, names forgotten, emotions that died;
                        I walk through life feeling nothing inside.
                        Dreams were a cursed, wretched array,
                        Parades of dead warriors I've packed away.
                        Their faces sometimes vivid, their names on a wall;
                        I try to keep moving in spite of them all.

                        I hope they know the prayers said in their name;
                        I hope they look fondly of the man I became.
                        Their life was sadly taken for some senseless cause,
                        Their spirit lives on and their love gives me pause.

                        They sacrificed their all for us ...
                        We must live our best for them.

                        Sleep well my brothers, 'til we meet again.

by Contributing Poet:     David Sandgrund   Copyright 2015
      ( First published in   2015 )

  Vinh Long, 1st View

                        The helicopter lifted off
                        Leaving him alone
                        Heart pounding, sweating
                        In the hot and humid breeze
                        His clothes sticking to his body
                        Shielding his eyes from the river's glare
                        He watches brown water rushing past
                        Green vegetation floating by
                        Catching on the rocks
                        A woman washing clothes
                        Another collecting the water hyacinth
                        Straw hats covering their heads
                        The breeze blowing
                        Their baggy pants
                        Their thin blouses
                        At the river's edge
                        A young girl stands
                        With a sweet, tender look
                        Smiling she hands him
                        A water hyacinth
                        Blue petals sparkling
                        In the sunlight
                        A gift from
                        A serene beauty
                        Behind him traffic noises
                        Tinny motors, squeaky horns
                        Mingle with the distant
                        Unintelligible voices
                        From the market
                        From passing boat
                        The air filled with strange odors
                        Fish, drying vegetation
                        Food from the market stalls
                        Avoiding the bicycles and motor bikes
                        He turns and walks
                        Down the road

by Contributing Poet:     David Sandgrund   Copyright 2015
      ( First published in   2015 )

  A Woman of the Mekong

                        The woman has a round face
                        More beautiful than the moon
                        Springtime dancing in her eyes
                        Bare feet, brown as earth,
                        She steers her boat along the shore
                        Picking water hyacinths
                        Gathering Lotus
                        To sell to romantic passersby
                        As the sun sets she
                        Hides her boat
                        Among the lilies
                        Singing quietly to herself
                        The setting sun reflected
                        In the river's waters
                        The woman of the flowers
                        Earth brown face
                        Trembles in the ripples

by Contributing Poet:     David Sandgrund   Copyright 2015
      ( First published in   2015 )

  Rice Paddies Moonlight

                        Alone and full, the moon
                        Floats over the house by the paddies.
                        Into the night the water reflects the stars above.
                        The bright silver spills on the water never still.
                        The image more brilliant than precious silk.
                        The circle without blemish.
                        The empty paddies without sound.
                        And in that silence the rice grows.
                        The same clear glory extends for a thousand paddies.
                        The same brilliance for a thousand eyes.

by Contributing Poet:     David Sandgrund   Copyright 2015
      ( First published in   2015 )

  Variation on a Theme

                        A narrow rim along the rice paddies crunches underfoot to each step
                        high above the sun beats down
                        on the fields, dry and yellow
                        in the summer heat, wide and warm and empty, with the occasional
                        bush emphasizing the clarity
                        of an open landscape inviting him
                        to sit down, back against a hot rock, pleasing, soothing. Staring ahead
                        into the trembling distance having
                        no thoughts of tomorrow or yesterday - there's the rock, and the wide,
                        wide prospect, falling away, falling slowly, slowly away.

by Contributing Poet:     David Sandgrund   Copyright 2015
      ( First published in   2015 )

Bio:   David Sandgrund   served in Viet Nam from Feb 1967 to Feb 1968 with the 6th/56th ADA HQ Hawk Missile Battalion.

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