For a decade
                        we took Danang and Kaochung to bed,
                        rubbed napalm over shrapnel scars,
                        called it love.

                        For the first two years,
                        I held you through night time sweats
                        which scattered opiate hallucinations,
                        fragging holes in your sleep.

                        Till hostilities went guerilla.
                        While the decoy stayed topside,
                        terrorism tunneled deep underground.

                        I wore Vietnam like a totem
                        in this Hanoi Hilton
                        we built for ourselves,
                        became your hooch mama,
                        accepted every assault,
                        until Cambodia imploded in my mouth,
                        was no longer contained.

                        Banging my head,
                        I kamikazied against
                        your stark white barrack walls,
                        slipped and ran, refugee free,
                        through the dead marriage mud.

by Contributing Poet:     Jennifer Lagier   Copyright © 2014
      ( First published in   2014 )

  What He Brought Home

                        At 1 a.m. he pulls a k-bar knife
                        from beneath the pillow,
                        pushes himself off his mattress,
                        patrols the house perimeter.
                        Silently, he glides down the hallway,
                        checks every window and door.

                        He sleeps lightly since his return from Vietnam,
                        hides a baseball bat, keeps nunchucks under the bed.
                        Ripping at his fingernails,
                        he describes finding staked men
                        left to rot in the jungle heat,
                        each layer of their skin slowly peeled off.

                        He keeps curtains drawn, his back against the wall.
                        Anything can trigger another flashback:
                        windy rainstorms coupled with sirens,
                        the t.v. image of a wood-pierced vampire.
                        His bare hands gouge a foxhole
                        into a flowerbed within which to hide.

                        Only booze and dope
                        temporarily block vivid memories:
                        booby-traps, ambushes, atrocities.
                        Coma, the silver cross he depends on,
                        repels persistent phantoms
                        overrunning his nights.

by Contributing Poet:     Jennifer Lagier   Copyright © 2014
      ( First published in   Dead   2014 )

Bio:   Jennifer Lagier   has published nine books of poetry and in a variety of literary magazines and anthologies. She was nominated for a Pushcart in 2011, taught with California Poets in the Schools and is now a retired college librarian/instructor. Jennifer is a member of the Italian American Writers Association, Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and Rockford Writers Guild. She co-edits the Homestead Review and maintains websites for Ping Pong: A Literary Journal of the Henry Miller Library, The Monterey Poetry Review, and She also helps coordinate the Monterey Bay Poetry Consortiumís Second Sunday Reading Series.

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PAUL HELLWEG   All rights reserved
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