A Bloody Beat Between Beats: 8,890 Miles Away in Vietnam

Vietnam

The following poem is dedicated to Byron Joseph Oler. Patriot, defender of the downtrodden, lover of life, and good friend. RIP, Byron. 

Vietnam

A bend of the elbow

Slight parting of the lips

Liquid release

Tumbles down throat

Forget

Never

Forgive

Forever

Forever forgiving

Fighting in Thua Thien Hue Province

8,890 miles from his front porch

In the jungles of Vietnam

Vietnam, where our sons

And those they vanquished

Fertilize the rice patties

 

Black on black

A terror in a nightmare

Underground

Rivers of spilled blood

A slow smoldering of youth

To fight

To kill

From the inside out

No place for a black man

No place for any man

A jagged slice of hell

And helicopters

Deliberate

Deadly

An endless loop

Of rosy faces lost

Brothers formed in

In the green dungeon of death

Perishing

To the beasts of battle

 

His heart has missed so many beats

That his pulse is erratic

A collection

Of whirring chopper blades

Banana clips

Machine gun burst

Claymore mines

Exploding bodies

Beats between beats

A cadence

A twisted military march

Of beats between beats

 

He picks up his pen

Hoping this time

He can bleed the words from his fingertips

Like the fields of Vietnam which bled him

Of his innocence

 

And that is finally

What he is left with:

Pen

Vietnam

Drink

And beats

Between beats

Only he hears