VIETNAM WAR POETRY

  LZ Some Hill Somewhere

                        It became no shock
                        To discover the floor of the earth
                        Deeper than it appeared
                        On the ass end of a shit hook

                        Its crew chief barking at us
                        As we fell
                        Like a green excretion
                        From the whup-whup hover

                        Bird droppings
                        If you will
                        Our ballsy salted squad leader
                        Stood there
                        Still in a rainy red smoke mist

                        Calmly looking down upon us
                        . . . a welcome back
                        To the cryptic contact message
                        In his borrowed from Lee Marvin eyes

                        Below
                        Our sane hearts pumped
                        A reality of ripples
                        Into the ruby infusion
                        Of rainwater and blood

                        Down there
                        In that bombed-out
                        Bowl of butchered meat in the mud

                        The scattered deaf mute carnage
                        Some of our brothers and some of them
                        Cartilage and tendon ribbons
                        End over ended
                        With splintered bone

                        Lying there
                        Listening to the chattering swill
                        A cook-off of brass belts feeding
                        The white hot
                        Sludge-muffled maws

                        Snorting hogs ... there in the torpor
                        And the tumble of Kalashnikovs
                        And B-40s performing
                        A perfectly deadly medley
                        Of hair-raising melodies

                        And again
                        I called on those
                        Almighty powers that be
                        While the senior squid
                        Worked on this kid
                        Whose red marimba of a ribcage opened
                        For all the gods to see

by Contributing Poet:     Fred Rosenblum   Copyright 2013
      ( First published electronically in   Blue Streak by the University of Eastern Kentucky   2013 )


  Hue City Snap

                        O that vile little war
                        We partook of
                        No one would await
                        Our ticker-tapeless returns
                        Our festive sky the color tar

                        . . . I saw a boy
                        I'd played pony league with
                        Eating rats in the rubble
                        With his fire team
                        . . . On a morning
                        When urine escaped me in my fear
                        As nearby
                        Phantoms dropped their canisters
                        Of jellied death
                        On the Imperial Palace of Peace

                        . . . And the ill-fated for sacrifice
                        Two battalions of the 5th Marines
                        Who'd roughly lose
                        One hundred and thirty lives
                        Many of whom
                        Still in their teens
                        Abandoned their wills to survive
                        The shock of wounds received

                        . . . Running a teargas gauntlet
                        Room by gutted room
                        Louvres chattering in French motif
                        Street by colonial street
                        Dynasties of the long-dead souls exhumed
                        Set loose amid the littered impediments
                        Of dead educators
                        And the religious elite

                        Buddhists bound and wrapped-up tight
                        Expanding in strands of com-wire
                        Alongside their . . . torn
                        Adorned in festive ao dai wives

                        . . . Some of them
                        Later buried alive
                        Or half afloat
                        In an ancient moat before the Citadel
                        And below
                        The royal amorphous heap
                        Once the Dong Ba Tower

                        . . . Under the heavens
                        We thought we knew
                        Those soft pale colors that betrayed us
                        In the dry bloody fudge
                        Of afternoon

                        . . . And when
                        In that urban jungle specters grew
                        Beneath the evening river's flare of moon
                        Palms did pirouettes -
                        Shadows pitching on the Perfume tide
                        A writhing rhythm
                        Of silhouettes
                        Fashioned to fool a young blood's eye

                        . . . And all the while
                        Above that city's
                        Blazing sacred stench
                        Inexplicably consumed
                        Beguiled
                        By the unaccustomed fragrance
                        Of all things Annamese
                        Thunder stricken on some of those
                        Monsoon zephyrs out of the northeast

by Contributing Poet:     Fred Rosenblum   Copyright 2014
      ( First published in   Consequence Magazine #6   spring 2014 )


  Extrication

                        We found relief from the utter fatigue
                        In the simple luxury, collapsed on beds
                        Of trampled elephant grass
                        There in the beat-down of bamboo, machetes thwacking
                        Hacking away at a would-be LZ
                        Removing debris from a muggy highland narrow
                        Where tactile horseflies
                        Stood paralyzed in the heat of the stocks and barrels
                        Quiet rifles cradled beneath the angry
                        Tropical bloodshot eye of the sun

                        Our replenished packs
                        Propped our slimy, skinny scarecrow backs
                        Muscular but malnourished
                        Leather necks throbbing
                        Under the slight constriction
                        Of faded, degraded G.I.
                        Green towel horseshoe ringers,
                        Sopping up, mopping up a drainage
                        Of teenage sweat
                        Dangling from earlobes and loose straps

                        On the steel pots that rocked
                        Atop our precious brain containers,
                        Cammy tubs that were covered and tagged
                        With the countercultural symbols of insurrection
                        Homespun macho maxims
                        And the names of females
                        With blacked-out days
                        Eclipsed by an ace of spades
                        Ubiquitous on calendars of war like jail

                        And we lingered and we languished
                        In the staggered supine columns
                        Lounged there with cocktails of pear juice
                        Pastries of pound cake
                        Trying our hands in those moments
                        At staving-off the oppressive weights
                        Of humidity and apprehension
                        With an imperative of detached reverie.

by Contributing Poet:     Fred Rosenblum   Copyright 2015
      ( First published in   VietnamWarPoetry.com   2015 )


  We Heads Shared in the Loss of Icons

                        We heads
                        Shared in the loss of icons
                        A Kennedy
                        A King
                        We heads
                        Could hang our heads together
                        Through damn-near anything
                        All we really wanted to do
                        Was trip
                        All of us relatively new
                        To the tripping bestowed upon us
                        This weed-smoking
                        Serendipitous milieu
                        A la Hendrix for blending
                        Blood together Sixties
                        Southeast Asia
                        Really kinda cool that way
                        Chucks and souls
                        Could hang together
                        In a weird sorta
                        Colorless naivete
                        Rendering us rather mellow
                        Not so fucking uptight
                        Spooning together
                        Or shoulder-high
                        In holes some nights
                        Rain slick . . . hand and face
                        The beautiful goddamned
                        Moon play of reflections -
                        Its bare skin naked pallor
                        Amid a pity of stars
                        We heads
                        Stellar with irrelevance
                        Shared those righteous bowls
                        Of ganja in homage

by Contributing Poet:     Fred Rosenblum   Copyright 2015
      ( First published in   VietnamWarPoetry.com   2015 )


  A Year of Diplomas and Wounds Received

                        My high school English teacher
                        Required our class of seniors to subscribe
                        To the Reader's Digest;
                        Assigned us to read and discuss certain articles,
                        One of which, ironically depicted
                        The plight of the 26th Marines,
                        Their battles with the NVA
                        For control of what would be
                        Christened a legendary hill one day . . .
                        The irony - that approximately one year later,
                        In May of Sixty-eight,
                        I would be deployed with my company
                        And another from the 1st MarDiv
                        To relieve the 26th
                        Who controlled that remote,
                        Albeit, strategically essential, position
                        In the northern highlands of South Vietnam.
                        This transition for me
                        Was a very eerie reminder
                        As to how rapidly one's life
                        Can morph and factor
                        Into the bizarre and unfathomable;
                        To how rapidly one reasons
                        With the mind-boggling randomness
                        Of this relatively small planet we inhabit.

by Contributing Poet:     Fred Rosenblum   Copyright 2015
      ( First published in   VietnamWarPoetry.com   2015 )


Bio:   Fred Rosenblum   served with the 1st Marines in 68/69 Vietnam, fueling most of what has appeared in a smattering of publications. His first book of poems, Hollow Tin Jingles, was released in February of 2014. He is retired and residing with wife wife of 42 years in San Diego, CA.


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