Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | October 11, 2011

Another Poem from the Vietnam Chapbook

This is one of my personal favorites from the chapbook.  Finding The Way Home will be published on Amazon in time for Veteran’s Day, next month.

*******************

MERCENARY

What God abandoned, these defended, . . .“ A. E. Housman


He was a Nung:

Chinese, born in South Vietnam

-when that was a country.

Lived as a paid soldier,

one of our “little people,”

as loyal as money and promises for family

can secure.

I called him Louie,

because some other before me,

some other, in a one-year-at-a-time war

tagged him with that,

maybe five or six Americans ago.

Standing beside him made me feel tall,

at five-ten,

but he smiled under the huge rucksack

whose weight seemed always on the brink

of dragging him backward.

Louie was not exactly a friend,

we were partners in war.

Vietnam was his world,

but I was the advisor,

he, the student who taught.

Hired to protect in those lonely sectors

whose names, if there were names,

rang strange tones,

even in Vietnamese ears.

Places where U.S. forces did not go

officially.

My bodyguard: a constant,

always there,

had always been there, it seemed.

An extension, doubling the senses,

buying the luxury of thought;

one mind guarded by the other.

When thought was shattered-

when ripping sniper bullets splashed

against canopied silence like rocks

slashed into a placid lake,

the shield that he was protected,

but his heavy load

pulled him down.

Others did the necessary things,

and sudden quiet wrapped around.

Kneeling beside Louie,

cupping hands under him

as if to catch and save

all that blood;

my fingers could not hold enough

to give back

what we had bought.

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Responses

  1. this is really moving, thank u


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