“A Vietnam Memoir In Tanka Form”

(May 20, 2018) Tankas 1081 to 2001)

December 10, 1970

By J Richards

 

1081

I saw my lives slip

away so easy and so fine

too soon for long pain

 

and said behind my blindness

if this is death it’s not so bad

1082

cannot hear or see

or even feel – still floating

in the flash of fire

 

and said to me if you think

maybe not-dead: go. quick. taste!

 

1983

everywhere you reach

for blood’s copper scary stink

yep. Calm your heart – quick

 

slow , deep, longer draughts of breath

to quell a racing heartbeat

 

1084

lick some fingers; wash

eyelids free of gore and blood

and see your’s doom’s path

 

not a mortar but rocket

and that means you’re overrun

1085

forget finding eyes

those glasses and gun are gone:

stop the questions – act!

1086

how i copped a smoke

covered with cupped hands year ago

maybe two hours past

 

hey! I can see – the flares glow

shows hieronymous horror

 

1087

just a ragged hand

clutching a gook tin-can grenade

concertina wire

 

with tanglefoot between – no bugles

no banners go unfurled

 

1088

the bunker’s up there

stay and die or go and die

no question – go-ward

 

no movie but shit-scared real

it’s true – thank god: i must pee

1089

high-stepping the wire

i never mastered in football

mortar flashes more

 

lead the way through stark terror

green and orange tracers touch

 

1090

marine arty rings

only sappers left inside

i freeze and then yell

 

marine! comin’ in – and duck

inside pacific dark gloom

1091

a bloody face calms

with precise radio chatter

i sit by the hatch

 

and clutch my randall bowie

and resume yoga breathing

1092

years later, corpsman

comes and asks where hit and checks

new wound! big ticket!

 

now blind again but not scared

wait the med-evac chopper

1093

i help to carry

gut-shot viet lieutenant

and i almost sit

 

but no glasses, no rifle,

no camera, so – no thanks!

1094

the corpsman inside

just shakes his head – seen it before

i take my blue card

 

off that ‘bird’ that came for me

and go find my stuff – and glasses!

1095

it’s now dawn and still

i need to pee – my notebook

in my flak jacket

 

i find my pack – camera

and get to work shooting pics

1096

the colonel comes by

remembers me unfondly

and gives me a ride

 

back to regimental rear

where finally i can pee

1097

the surgeon mends my

glasses and the corpsman tends

my silly shrapnel

 

the doc finds the other wound

and fishes for more debris

1098

penicillin and

a final inspection – done

i hitch a ride home

 

six-by truck to danang

with a stop at freedom hill

1099

say hi to donut

dolly sheila shanahan

and go grab a beer

 

no one mentions the headwrap

but some stare at the big knife

2000

‘nother ride – and home

‘hey – you were dead’ some say

then missing, one chimes

\

I slip outside ‘nother beer

and type but one last story

 

2001

later i was told

tall tales, none at all was true

and thence to strange days

 

sheila and a general

both came she smiled – with smuggle

 

Jalvis Quotes (VishalDutia)? Nicely done, if somber.

Behind the courage We hide our fears Below the laughter Are hidden tears Beneath the skin we hide our souls Behind the faces we are acting roles Inside every gentleman there lies a beast Behind the calmness there is passion unleashed Behind the robes priests hide their desires Beneath the smiles We hide our fires […]

via Behind … #Poetry — Jalvis Quotes