Tuesday, February 20, 2007

PORTRAIT OF AN AMERICAN MAN O'WAR

My friend
Ken -
Purple hearted
Vietnam War Vet
Never talks
About war;
Hates men
Who claim
They are vets
But who never
Have served. He
Coughs up
Phlegm, calls
These
Braggards,
Dreamers,
Schemers.
"Four star
Frauds," he
Says, every
Now and then
"They don't know,
They just don't. . . ".

Once,
Ken said he
Was so scared
Over there
He just prayed
And prayed
That it would end --
Somehow,
Even if it meant
He just remained
A corpse
In a swamp;

Bouquets of rice
Floating around --
Green, hidden
Among stems
And stems,
And stems.....

Now, Meantime,
at Ken's Ol'
Mississippi home,
Family and friends
Are proud of him.
Those two medals
That came with blood,
Ripped flesh and crippling
Surgeries off and on
For decades. Yep they are.
Now if only Ken could
Stay sober and nice.
War bonds going once,
Twice, thrice -
Between Agent Orange
And problems with his
Head, he's earned
A monthly U.S. check;
I mean, he's really
Earned it, man;

I mean even
if Ken could work,
How could he?
Screaming in front
Of elementary schools
Closed and barren,
Playing dice with nice
Demons in his head
And other fellows
He knew back when

You could say it
Gives Thorozine the
Chills and the creeps.

by Sam Vargo


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