VIETNAM WAR POETRY

  After Seeing
Mark di Savuro's Large Orange Mother Peace Sculpture

                        It's huge and on a ten foot high hill,
                        a personal statement against the Vietnam War,
                        "all we are saying, all we are
                        saaaaaing,
                        is give peace a chance"
                        ...
                        more than statements dreamy eyes, whispered words, "I'll be
                        flying over China," he said in '64.

She never heard from him again, never received a postcard that said,   flying over China, wish you were here.   She forgot him but not about peace, made some personal statements of her own, this is   fuckingoveracountryapeople,   she screamed until the war was over, marched to state houses, to student unions, to hell and back.   She married, but had recurrent dreams:   she was wearing an aqua mohair sweater, a short skirt and twisting her hips back and forth and up and down, twisting like she did last summer, drinking bourbon like she never did before.   She can't remember many things he said, but does remember that small Tudor window, the moon so far away.  She remembers him standing there, and couldn't look away, couldn't.

                        And in D.C. she found him and his place of birth
                        and death and touched his name on that black granite wall
                        and heard echoes, his voice making a statement
                                                                                         "See I am telling you something, something
                                                                                          my name, see ... my goodbye
                                                                                          from that place called Nam."

by Contributing Poet:     Mary Leonard   Copyright 2015
      ( First published in   VietnamWarPoetry.com   2015 )

  ~

  Enemy Anthills

                        The night we separated from the others
                        I fell over branches, vines, while you
                        slashed through the thicket, never
                        offering your arm, only, "Get moving!"
                        I did. You lunged. We kissed. I pushed
                        you away. You pushed me aside to stick me
                        with bits about 'Nam, your buddies,
                        how I didn't understand. I can't remember
                        your exact words, but only your hair,
                        long, blonde tied back with teeth, human
                        trophies spitting out your mane, cutting me off,
                        sending me back reeling to the fire,
                        to my friends' chants against the war.
                        I abandoned you in the thicket
                        you could never leave, but you left
                        your mark on me. For months, I scratched
                        blistering mounds, enemy anthills,
                        my body's protest against poison, a warning,
                        that you were a new breed.

by Contributing Poet:     Mary Leonard   Copyright 2006
      ( First published as Vietnam Protest in Red River Review and then as Enemy Anthills in A Girl Pudding House: 2007 )


  Roger Gene

                        I find you everywhere:
                        on the Vietnam Wall, panel 30 E, line 008,
                        on the Internet wall:   the wingman radioed, bail out;
                        but do you remember twisting up and down and all around in '64?

                        By panel 30 E, line 008, I leave a bottle of Maker's Mark,
                        remembering drinking bourbon and spinning like one body in the sky.
                        While twisting up and down and all around in '64,
                        you said to me, "I'll be flying over China in July."

                        Remembering drinking bourbon and spinning
                        like one body in the sky,
                        You told me you loved me from head to toe,
                        and said, "I'll be flying over China in July."
                        In '70 I was flying high, shouting,   Hell no, We won't go.

                        You told me you loved me from head to toe.
                        I married, had two kids, forgot about the stars, your kiss,
                        but in '70 I was flying high, shouting,   Hell no, We won't go.
                        You flew over Vietnam on air patrols.

                        I married, had 2 kids, forgot about stars, your kiss
                        but in the 90's saw your ghost, your spinning death grip.
                        You flew over Vietnam on air patrols:
                        Your Phantom shot down, you didn't bail out.

                        In the 90's, I saw your ghost, your spinning death grip,
                        and reached out to cry, "you never had a chance."
                        The search and rescue missions circled your site twice
                        but I found you in the margins of all my college notes.

                        I reached out to cry, "you never had a chance,"
                        to say, "I need to put to rest your ghost."
                        I found you in the margins of all my college notes.
                        Your father found a piece of the Phantom at the crash site.

                        Your father buried your remains in Arlington,
                        but I still see you standing there, can't glance away,
                        from Roger Gene in the margins of my notes and
                        your Phantom spinning like all the bodies in the sky.
                        But I found you in the margins of all my college notes.

                        I reached out to cry, "you never had a chance,"
                        to say, "I need to put to rest your ghost."
                        I found you in the margins of all my college notes.
                        Your father found a piece of the Phantom at the crash site.

                        Your father buried your remains in Arlington,
                        but I still see you standing there, can't glance away,
                        from Roger Gene in the margins of my notes and
                        your Phantom spinning like all the bodies in the sky.

by Contributing Poet:     Mary Leonard   Copyright 2007
      ( Finalist in Dallas Poetry Society Contest; published in Red River Review and then in A Girl by Pudding House 2007 )


Bio:   Mary Leonard   has published chapbooks at 2River, Pudding House, Antrim House Press and RedOchreLit. Her poetry has appeared in The Naugatuck Review, Hubbub, Cloudbank, The Chronogram, Blotterature, Earth's Daughters and most recently in Red River, Ilya's Honey, A Rat's Ass, and Perfume River. She will also have poems forthcoming in The New Independents and The Courtship of Winds. She lives in an old school house overlooking the Rondout Creek in Kingston, NY. Away from her own personal blackboard, she teaches writing workshops for all ages through the Institute for Writing and Thinking at Bard College.


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