At the Penny University open mic
I once read a workshop poem about War -
"War dreams like a forty-nine year old, overweight insurance salesman
who never graduated from high school
dreams of someday finding some waitress in some town
who will actually let him take her to his motel
and won't just drink up all his whiskey
and leave as soon as he passes out.
War hurries like the insurance salesman does
when he finally gets a woman into bed."
That sort of thing.
A local Native American poet stood up later,
commented on people who read poems about war
and were never in one,
read a poem from his own experience in Viet Nam.
I want to tell Greyhawk,
I have experienced Viet Nam.
Not just in college poetry class
turning every poem
into discussion of The War.
In a car at midnight
listening to "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner";
wanting to hug Frank,
who sat with his back to the driver's side door,
eyes on his haunted cassette player -
but nobody could hug Frank,
anymore than we could hold on to him.
Donna wheels her chair into the StreetLife Gallery,
the only woman to drive a gunboat up the river,
I don't know the details,
I know that Donna and her husband Jim
come squabbling into the Gallery,
paint wonderful watercolors
and squabble off together,
StreetLife Gallery is part of the Viet Nam War.
I want to tell Greyhawk about Ted,
who ghosts into our weekly writer's group,
drops a crumpled page of life upon the table,
and fades away again.
"The Old Man", he calls himself,
The Old Man peering into the Coffeeshop
through the frosted window.
I want to tell Grey Hawk,
war touches us all.
The only hope we have
is to know that.
Love to all the veterans -