VIETNAM WAR POETRY

  Vietnam: The Final Salute

                        The once august glory which this empire abounds
                        The hallowed reverence of now gone victory resounds
                        Then boding silence haunts from eternity denounces
                        And over ghostly dells where anguish gains ground,

                        Thin retreating wars desert frayed promises of gold
                        Leaving exiles of men toss aside from fraternal holds
                        While fresh casualties push forth at the midnight tolls
                        And cunning hands charge still legion battles' scrolls,

                        In the rotting wounds through the violet time creeps
                        Of crumbling faith by which the armed marches keep
                        Scathing trumpets grind besides clashing swords deep
                        And distant letters reach home after dying men sleep,

                        Booming drumfire stirs slumbering innocence leaves
                        As fair damsels scurry round campaign-wrought armies
                        Proud fathers clasp anxious sailors back from the sea
                        And flying banners flutter by a tearful widow grieves,

                        Deftly uniformed guards escort flag-draped casket crate
                        Stowed enshrined corpse trundling past the steely gates
                        Within the breast of winter, the noble son returns too late
                        And honeysuckle trail imbues through the cargo inlaid,

                        Large drove of mourners trickle down the chapel's deck
                        Slender tail of winter frost pursues Death in its wakes
                        Waning sun slopes beyond the fractured icebound lake
                        And faint saffron light casts frail the solemn faces' ache,

                        Meander and gripe with baiting frowns the children fret
                        Silent forms in inky threads march on the pale grass wet
                        Echoing bells chime from some yonder vaulted oubliette
                        And startled the red-winged birds take flight a spectral red,

                        Scarlet coats salute three volleys atop the reverent hill
                        Beneath the quays of sorrow clinking bones softly keel
                        Flesh of their flesh turn to rot when the casket's lid seals
                        And olden pines skirt near the boneyard hauntingly still,

                        Battle-scarred men on knobby joints gasping icy smoke
                        Breathing in the perfumed air of the living, sun-filled soak
                        Entombed pulse of cascading dirt a murky torrent cloak
                        And quivering lips fall the faithful kisses on eternal stroke,

                        From under the restrained sky the bugle groans and heaves
                        As jarring hearts open their wings and soar the distant sea
                        The forlorn widow with mesh black veil and mascara bleeds
                        And oozing trail of teardrop hot, smears the sepulchered lea,

                        So past the picket fences where the bent dogwood moors
                        Shapes stir like revolving ghosts through the widow's doors
                        Then she peers in the bassinet of their laughing baby Paul
                        And how he might have loved seeing his sweet child crawl,

                        Ribbons twine his aged letters above the antique mantle bay
                        Warming balm of candle flames beyond grief's banquet lays
                        Hymnal notes dives and slides then scales on height of grace
                        And infant heeds the requiem psalm, eyes fix in wakeful stay,

                        Footsteps scuffle the oak floorboard audibly groaned nigh
                        As stony men with mangled limbs drag heavy their able sides
                        While the widow sets his livery rags, pressed skillfully light
                        And madness waits as grief empties outward her bleary eyes,

                        She slumps on the rocking chair hating fear and fearing all
                        As gulping sobs pool beneath the threadbare rotting walls
                        Here and there soft whispers caress the wandering footfalls
                        And hoarse evening chimes peal like long phantom's caws,

                        Yellow moon tangles with earth when darkness turns to glow
                        Tender leave of fading crowd parts ways by the edge of snow
                        Crystal flecks steal in huddled coats where mercy flounders low
                        And held down by bowing heavens of the fraught evening cold,

                        At the dip of eventide and upon their lonely bed she strokes
                        His flightsuit green looks faded moss by the fanlight's smoke
                        Darkly strong of face and brilliant cobalt eyes, he still evokes
                        And when the languid time will stir his homeward soul awoke,

                        With deaths born by waged battles from war-ridden scrawls
                        To the ugly lies that bury too deep why the late perished fall
                        While all the pointless costs of every death now mortals' war
                        And the countless doubts made ireful the grievance's shore.

by Contributing Poet:     Nia Nguyễn Rodé   Copyright © 2015
      ( First published in   VietnamWarPoetry.com   2015 )


Bio:   Nia Nguyễn Rodé   has one flash fiction published in Deltona Howl and two poems which will be published online forthcoming with the literary journals, Thought Notebook and Earl of Plaid Lit. She lives in California where she is a wife and a stay at home mom to two wonderful children.


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