VIETNAM WAR POETRY

  After That, This

                        Blackbird and woodpecker in the oaks over the road
                        and deer, sudden on the Farm to Market. All night
                        before he left for the war, the Persiads flew down
                        at the edges of our eyes. Before he started home,

                        he phoned from the base. Spinning toward our house
                        through a mist of summer insects, butterflies lifted
                        easily onto his windshield. He believed he was swimming
                        through our rooms. His eyes seined his surroundings.

                        He lifted his fists and I longed to shout ó
                        watch out for the undertow, the drowning tide.
                        In the days after cherry blossoms, when the air lies

                        on J street, thick as elementary school paste,
                        a Dodge Dynasty creeps past our apartment,
                        on its torn bumper sticker:     Make Love ...

by Contributing Poet:     Wendy Taylor Carlisle   Copyright © 2016
      ( First published in   VietnamWarPoetry.com   2016 )


  Dust

                        I couldn't remember last year
                        because I was in it. You didn't call it war.
                        You called it me being a bitch
                        but you knew too much about a range

                        of lesser cruelties to step aside or break
                        the harsh stillness, useful in the jungle.
                        Silence clicked into place like a Lego brick,
                        through the long afternoons we were building.

                        We lay down. You rose up in
                        your beautiful, whole skin. Your arm-hair
                        curled red-gold, a trick of light.
                        Your always-cold feet kept the memory

                        of swamp. You never mourned or cursed.
                        Still, I imagined the future as dust.
                                                                         The future was.

by Contributing Poet:     Wendy Taylor Carlisle   Copyright © 2016
      ( First published in   Aquila Review   2016 )


  Salvage

                        A barehanded man contends with the sky. In the jungle behind
                        his eyes everything is green. Somewhere else, a jungle
                        cracks and separates. The words lonesome and trail remind him

                        of the Riders of the Purple Sage ó the band, not the story.
                        When in the city, his metal parts consider their source. On the day
                        after Memorial Day, flags are gone from the next-door cemetery.

                        It's rules, management says, we're just following rules. The man
                        Washes underwear. He washes socks. He believes in
                        gustatory joy. Bacon fries. He believes in loss as dirty dishes

                        he will tend to soon. As Joni Mitchell implies in her early CDs,
                        love and ego can be conflated. He sometimes agrees.
                        Two trains and a bus collide in London. Even in Texas, trees

                        shed their leaves. In another latitude, soldiers who were his friends go
                        on vanishing. He believes they still nurse their decaying morals,
                        still raise whatís left of their eyebrows, still stay restless and bold.

                        He believes in salvage. He suspects they could move on if they
                        understood god as the mystery of the possible, if they let go of memory,
                        if they noticed as he did, the sameness in the present and history.

by Contributing Poet:     Wendy Taylor Carlisle   Copyright © 2016
      ( First published in   VietnamWarPoetry.com   2016 )


  When He

                        When he described what they did to the old man, to the children

                        When he confessed his part, how like delirium it was

                        When he explained while it was happening, the half-forgotten voice
                                    of sister Claire stood guard at his left shoulder and his arm
                                    rose and fell and rose of its own accord

                        When he reported how it rained for weeks and his wet feet stayed wet and fungus
                                    got one toe and how his body felt the same but never was the same again
                                    and how for decades after that he loved the spoon.

                        When he related all of that that while looking at the spider web behind my head,
                                    it was years later, miles away from that war and I donít remember
                                    what I whispered, in which soft vernacular, what lexicon of absolution

                        I picked to comfort him, nor later what common words
                        I used to hide from what I pictured then.

by Contributing Poet:     Wendy Taylor Carlisle   Copyright © 2016
      ( First published in   Forage Poetry Journal   2016 )


Bio:   Wendy Taylor Carlisle   lives in the Arkansas Ozarks. She is the author of two books:   Reading Berryman to the Dog (Jacaranda Books, 2000) and Discount Fireworks (Jacaranda Books, 2008) and three chapbooks. Her most recent chapbook is Persephone on the Metro (MadHat Press, 2014). Long ago, she was the wife of a Viet Nam veteran. These poems reflect but do not detail, her experience of a marriage in the aftermath of that war.


              Contributing Poets
              Submissions
              About Us
              Home

Except where otherwise attributed,  all pages & content herein
Copyright © 2014  
PAUL HELLWEG   VietnamWarPoetry.com   All rights reserved
Frazier Park, California, USA