POETRY: Jeffrey Field – One Black Soldier

One Black Soldier

 

Summer, 1966.

I am trying to take
a Polaroid picture
of one black soldier
doing the Ali shuffle
outside the barracks
at Fort Sam Houston
in San Antonio, Texas.

He will not hold still.

“Viet Nam, here I come!”

He is 19 years old,
bobbing and weaving
up and down
the barracks’ steps,
smile as wide as Texas.

Hey! Hold still a minute wouldya?

Okay… Now!

The print slides from the camera.
A minute later he is grinning at me,
fists frozen in air,
the world’s greatest.

“Yeaaahhh! We gonna whip old Charlie’s tail!”

Pop! Pop!! Pop!!!
His fists smack the air as he
ducks and dodges
through the jungles of Viet Nam.

He is 82nd Airborne.

He is my friend.

One year later –
I’m stationed at Valley Forge General Hospital at
Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.
I work nights on orthopedic ward 5.
There are strange, sucking noises
coming from the ward

as I
sterilize the medicine carts.
Broken femurs.
Maggot-eaten men.

I keep my distance.

One morning,
one black soldier
wheels himself along the
polished wooden hallway.
His stumps end
high on boxer’s legs,
six inches above the knee.

Our eyes touch.

I want to disappear.

We shake hands.
Smile still as wide as Texas,
yet,
(we both silently understand)
not the same smile.
He tells his story.
As he speaks my mind begins to wander…
those two white-bandaged phantoms are
waving the air,
waving at me?
telling a different story,
speaking the body’s agony of being
blown
apart
while on night patrol in the
jungles of Nam.

Ascuncian,
the Hawaiian GI
who bunked on the cot
under me
at Fort Sam,
(whom I never liked
because,
one day,
for no apparent reason,
he threatened me,
and then he slammed me,
hard,
against the latrine wall)
was ripped into
two pieces,
machine gun fire
raking across his back
from an unseen enemy
embedded in the jungle.

A year never seemed so far away.

My friend
has brought the war
home.
I grudgingly accept it.
I take it to
my barracks’ room
and sleep with it.
I wake up with it
that afternoon.
I strap it to the back
of my motorcycle.
I ride the back roads of the
Amish countryside.
I bury it beneath a
dying
red sun.
Summer’s greens turn gray,
as a Polaroid picture
of one black soldier
burns a hole in my heart.

 

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POETRY: Jon Huerta

a long poem about finally giving up

thinking about
the torn up quilt
that was way
too old to keep
the sleeping bag
had seen better days
it would have turned
twelve this week
really missing that
sacred navajo rug
that was in
the back seat
and that worn out
Kelty pack i got when
i was seventeen
all located in the
beat up truck that
was found down
the street
the radiator was
leaking anyway
makes that squeaky
sound when she speaks
much too nerve racking
for any thief
shit i should have
given up years ago
finally had enough
and jumped ship
for someone even
less fortunate than me

 

–––––

 

Vinton, New Mexico/Texas Border

day in day out
watching the sea
of cotton grow
the morning glory
no too far behind
dew so thick
it would cling
to your clothes
like you had
just jumped
into the rio grande
mosquito’s thirsty
for fresh booze
heavy blood
the sun so hot
it turned black hair
blonde

 

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POETRY: Sara Cooper, Robin Wyatt Dunn, Howie Good

Sara Cooper

Knot

In the lobby on the eleventh floor
of the courthouse where we’ve come to be wed
an upscale call girl lacquers her nails more
for the intoxicating fumes than red

so that, dismayed, the secretary who
leads us to the judge—clenching a bouquet
of legally binding forms—says, Can you
believe what people do? And I say no

and then I say yes and you and always
without taking off my coat. Out the window:
horizon of complicated freeways,
each leading somewhere, but mostly

throbbing at the knot; two pillars of factory
smoke, focused at first, lose their discrete
     forms and diffuse into more gray sky.

 

–––––

 

Robin Wyatt Dunn

Breakfast

Pancakes meditate upon themselves
And I meditate upon the end,
Mother on the dishes.

Outside, sunlight is dreaming in a cousin-language.

 

–––––

Howie Good

Subzero

In the dark subzero hours of early morning,
I have been woken up by yips & squeaks,
coyote pups trying to keep warm. I lie there
and listen, & then I am no longer the color of tears.

 

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