VIETNAM WAR POETRY

  Blank Verse for the Man We Threw from the Sky

                        Though the memory doesn't feel like mine,
                        I must have been there, moving north north-west,
                        holding, up above the Perfume River,
                        with Simon, Isaac, our Arab gunner,
                        Vince, called Pineapple because of his face,
                        the NVA who kept on smiling
                        who would not stop to save his own life,
                        and Peter who had stopped asking questions,
                        having seen what no one should live to see
                        after Hue, and down to one emotion.

                        And if you could have held your head just right
                        seen the paint falling from the recent world
                        the old paint, there all the time, coming through,
                        you'd see our ancient nightmare carnival
                        framed in the CH-47's door
                        the Bosch pentimento of Viet Nam:

                        Here's child-meretrix selling her same ass
                        there in the tents which are huge green mussels.
                        The cargo choppers become dead-eyed fish
                        held down by the green bags of what remained
                        and the bodies, Jesus, pieces of bodies
                        women and boys in pieces, hanging in trees.
                        The dragons blowing their orange fires
                        with those same six hundred year old ravens
                        afterwards, and always a crescent moon.

                        But Bosch was wrong about how a man falls
                        In his Descent of the Damned into Hell
                        not handed to the air like a new bride,
                        or set down into space like firewood,
                        but arms out forward, braced, and on his knees
                        like a child's doubtful Indian dive,
                        but holding, past fear, and on both knees.

                        A parody of some liveable fall
                        with the river a lifetime below him.

                        The rest was just as Bosch warned us it'd be
                        and I'm not offended at our likeness:
                        demon-apes, empty of everything else,
                        prehensile hands, demon-hands, just like mine.

by Contributing Poet:     Eliot khalil Wilson   Copyright © 2015
      ( First published in   VietnamWarPoetry.com   2015 )


  Designing a Bird from Memory
in Jack's Skin Kitchen

                        We hated everything below us.
                        We'd come to hate the ground itself,
                        to dread the heavy ropes of gravity
                        drawing us down from blue
                        to a brooding green
                        which would billow in tan dust
                        like waves of fistic clouds.

                        We'd come to kill
                        the afternoons, to evade
                        the blanket heat by flying out of rifle reach
                        and dropping mortar rounds through the clouds and trees,
                        our demented resentment
                        entirely non-personal.

                        I would come to forget Isaac
                        our Arab gunner with his shell carton filled with baklava
                        and just how mixed he was
                        bearded, but awash in after-shave,
                        dropping incendiary bombs and Hershey bars at the same time,
                        Viet S'mores we called it.
                        How he could shoot his .50 caliber, stoned on hash,
                        as accurate as fate itself.
                        How he'd shoot children and dogs,
                        but not women or birds. Bad luck,
                        he said. Even when they are dead,
                        women and birds remember.
                        I would forget how we found him later in Song Ngan Valley
                        mixed with the ground and chopper,
                        repatriated, tangled like a lover,
                        his broken hand up and open
                        as if feeling for rain,
                        or patiently expecting some small gratuity.
                        The visor of his helmet shining the same
                        blue-black iridescence
                        as the glass of Chartes cathedral.

                        Right here, I tell the tattoo man
                        giving him my arm,
                        A blue bird, that certain blue, with black eyes
                        and rising.

by Contributing Poet:     Eliot khalil Wilson   Copyright © 2015
      ( First published in   VietnamWarPoetry.com   2015 )


  The Armless Child
Children's Hospital:  Hanoi

                        Can we call it a mercy,
                        how they wrapped you at birth
                        to show only your face which I carried to sleep?

                        Forty-years goneóbut not goneó
                        the rotor-winds and kerosene sunsets,
                        the poisoned river and fields
                        that bore years and years of destitute springs.

                        Useless, to paraphrase rain,
                        to think how even the sunflower
                        is given limbs.

                        Yes, what is of consequence
                        cannot be held in hand
                        but stilló
                        never the pressure of thumb and finger,
                        never my hand over your hand over worlds of paper.

                        In the night-storms of summer
                        I will wake to find your eyes,
                        and even the lightning will be light enough
                        for you to read the one word
                        I will always have for you.

                        In the stories we will write together,
                        you will be a spider or an octopus
                       
                        and far away from here.

by Contributing Poet:     Eliot khalil Wilson   Copyright © 2015
      ( First published in   VietnamWarPoetry.com   2015 )


Bio:   Eliot khalil Wilson   has written poems that have appeared in lots of different places.The last one deals with the legacy of Agent Orange. He currently lives and works in Golden, Colorado.


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