Scarecrow Contemplates Pi At the moment you snipped away my reticence, I spoke so eloquently that even the stones wept at your indifference. As you arranged my pose and buttoned the shirt around the wire and fodder replenishing my torso, I understood your roots and mine should never merge: transcendental, and in collusion with the […]
sharp ridgelines in The Que Sons:
sharper, darker, more secret –
still Zeros hidden there – here?
- (The Grand Tetons, The Rockies – and all their permutations: will I see Denali before demise? – for a surfside boy I sure somehow got mountain-made! The Black Hills, Appalachia, especially The Great Smokies, The Ozarks and those Southwest delights, “The Cheery Cows” and Lemon! Hell! I even get happy climbing Mount Dora and Geneva here in Central Florida where the highest point in Florida sets the yardstick back some hundred-n-twenty, hunnert-n-thirty times. Get a man a nosebleed doing that height!)
Forty-seven years from
my “best” graduation date:
- (What a gorgeous valley – too bad some damnfools scheduled a war there to spoil much of my enjoyment – the steep lone hill at the western end of a long valley sat just above the shallow pre-monsoon stream whose curving bed featured water-smooth polished rocks between each bend and fine-grit sandbar shallows on alternating sides of the curving river which would rise to great torrents during typhoons and months-long South China Sea- and Indian Ocean-borne monsoons twice yearly. The river, properly named Song Thu Bon, ran into the distant blue mountains disputed by American troops and our playmates from North Vietnam. I ran out of map to see if the Thu Bon river broached those razorback ridgelines or was born in those Annamite mountains, home of native peoples the French called Montanyards, a variation of the disrespectful terms tacked onto them by the Vietnamese and Khymers who displace those former lowland dwellers into those forbidding mountains ages in the past. This dank, dark and rich land, with elephants and tigers in the highlands and fecund fecally fertilized soil in the lowlands is IndoChina’s Dark And Bloody Ground, much like Kentucky of our still a-borning immigrant early colonial history. Those mountains – that overlooked Song Thu Bon – I see them still, both foreboding and welcoming, with deer and trout in their deeply cleft valleys and highland streams, strewn with boulders big as small houses, whose steeply inclined slopes featured thickets of double-and triple-canopy trees and writhing sharp-spiked vines, and whose daytime temperatures and humidity soars only to bring forth wintry chills with equal wetness from the day’s sweaty climbs come each evening, were where I encountered myself for the first time. And the hill, a bit of dirt atop a massive boulder, really, was my painter’s perch upon which to view this panorama. I saw many firsts there. Some of them worth the frightening regimental combat air assault as my photographer, John Gentry, and I corkscrewed down in a three-helicopter wave as the lead aircraft in the combat assault. It took the regimental CO to tell the platoon commander to let us ride in the first bird to hit dirt that morning that kicked off Operation Pickens Forest, the Marine Corps’ first “named” operation in Vietnam in just about a year. After the big “ops” of 1968 and 1969, the brass decided to quit springing set-piece “named” operations by fresh and rested units and just leave those troublemaking “grunts” (infantry) out in the bush away from those sensitive folk stuck supporting those same grunts back in the rear with all the gear and all the beer and all the buxomless really bad hastily-arranged USO shows that drove those poor souls stuck in creature comfort approximating limbo for what served as partial recreation. Drugs, brothels and eventual over-flowing racial warfare made staying out in “The Bush” the saner of the two sites by 1970. And the little hill that could by the banks of Son Thu Bon, where my “foxhole” fighting position was a scant six inches deep and I wore a red-yellow-black Aztec-themed headband woven into the shotgun shell loops on my thoroughly illegal floppy camouflaged “Bush Hat” instead of the regulation issued helmet. I was home. And sometimes still I remain. There was a PBS special decades ago about Tarawa – actually Betio Island on Tarawa Atoll – in the Pacific War To Maybe End All Wars after the first try failed: a Marine combat artist recalled in the documentary that sometimes I still sees that shell-torn and body-strewn island right in front of my very eyes. And sometimes, he says, I am there still. I understand.)