VIETNAM WAR POETRY

  40 Years Later
- Xavier and his wounded buddy reconnect on Facebook

                        I wanted to crawl out of that valley…didn’t want to get on
                        the chopper…cross-fire from three ridges.

                                                It was like a comic book...zing, pop, zip-zip-zip.

                        While the Huey lifted, I waited for Charley to waste us.

                                                You lay on a stretcher, flight medic checking the dressing...
                                                I hoped you weren't gonna lose that leg...blood congealed
                                                in the rice paddy, it was hard to find your wound.

                        You sat on the middle bench seat...medic worked your face...I
                        don't know how you put that compress on your eye...don’t
                        remember your hands leaving my leg.

                                                We landed at the hospital, you triaged one way,
                                                me another...never saw you again.

                        There was blood covering your face…I didn't know how bad you
                        were hit, if the round fucked up your brain.

                                                Don't remember much...I was Mr. Two Eyes blinking at the sun,
                                                my helmet flipped off and the eye was dead.

                        I saw the round ricochet off the rim of your helmet, shatter
                        into your face...your helmet flew over the terrace.

                                                Couldn't find it when we headed to the LZ...
                                                spent months embroidering that liner...
                                                always wondered what killed my eye.

                        For forty years, I wondered if you were alive, if you could
                        see, if you knew your own name.

                                                For forty years, I feared you lost your leg or life...if I failed you.

                        How could you have failed me? Blood was flowing out
                        of the socket, there was shrapnel in your forehead.

                                                It was my job.

by Contributing Poet:     Richard H. Fox   Copyright © 2014
      ( First published in   VietnamWarPoetry.com   2015 )


  Hippie

                        Xavier runs through a hollow ringed by ridges
                        and VC bullets whiz by like a war movie
                        his company is assaulting the enemy's tunnels
                        he carries an M5 medical bag no M16

                        the valley is flooded from rice paddies' overflow
                        a cry of MEDIC cuts through explosions
                        he races through smoke and riddled water
                        to a buddy with blood spurting from a thigh

                        he holds the leg above water as blood bubbles
                        applies a Combat-Application-Tourniquet
                        his helmet flips off right eye implodes
                        blood and shrapnel pocket his face

                        he puts a compress on his dead eye
                        one left blurs pulls the leg back out of water
                        applies a bandage to the bullet hole
                        shoulders his patient to the Dust Off

                        Huey flies low fast nurse stitches cornea
                        at the airport back in The World
                        a boy clacks a Newton's Cradle
                        Xavier hits the ground and rolls

by Contributing Poet:     Richard H. Fox   Copyright © 2013
      ( First published in   Richard's book Time Bomb   2013 )


  Match of the Wooden Soldiers

                        You fork a knight with index and ring, slap the clock,
                        light a Lucky Strike with the last butt,
                        blow rings into the tale,
                        how you left your right middle finger in ‘Nam,
                        stumped by a booby trap door.
                        You whistled at blood pulsed spray,
                        tied a tourniquet with teeth.
                        The medic looked at your eyes,
                        hid the morphine.

                        Our best girls bribed us with Budweiser and biscuits.
                        Did we avoid this match or was it your bait?
                        I babble about dodging lightning on Mount Lee’s summit.
                        You hack and spit in the ashtray,
                        block your queen.
                        A Richter-Veresov Attack ends in another stalemate.
                        I hunger for stories to match yours.

                        You raise a pinkie, limp to the lav with spoon and lighter.
                        I reset the clock,
                        set the pieces in formation.
                        You return, strike a Vienna Opening.
                        The timer’s tick eats clack of pan and pot.
                        I volley a Latvian Gambit.
                        12 hours, twenty-four Buds, eight tacos, two massages, twenty checks, no mates.

                        Amid a Goring Gambit,
                        you whisper about leave in Bangkok with boot camp buddy Willie,
                        about the whore shared.
                        As she took you, a blush rashed your cheeks.
                        Willie howled
                        You white boys are sooooo uptight, ‘fraid I’m gonna see sum’in’ I dig?

                        At the sixteenth hour, Sokolsky’s Opening is stalled by Slav Defense.
                        We slap palms above the battlefield,
                        agree to match in a week.
                        Three days later,
                        you lay on bathroom tiles, needle in arm, tourniquet relaxed.
                        I meet Willie at the cremation, shorter, thinner than expected.
                        We burn my chess set that night,
                        piss on the embers.

by Contributing Poet:     Richard H. Fox   Copyright © 2013
      ( First published in   Richard's book Time Bomb   2013 )


Bio:   Richard H. Fox   was born and bred in Worcester MA. He attended Webster University, as much artist colony as college, in the early 1970's. These diverse cultures shaped his world view and love of words. He is a former President of Poetry Oasis, Inc., a non-profit poetry association dedicated to education and promoting local poets, and was Managing Editor of its journal Diner. Time Bomb, his first collection of poetry, was published in 2013. Richard’s poems have appeared in numerous journals including Above Place, Boston Literary Magazine, OVS, Poetry Quarterly, Midstream Magazine, and Worcester Review. A cancer survivor, many of his poems focus on cancer from the patient's point of view drawing on hope, humor, and unforeseen gifts. Richard seconds Stanley Kunitz' motion that people in Worcester are "provoked to poetry."
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