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In Ca Mau
In Ca Mau the women
sweep the canal with their oars
on the way to the floating fruit market
grapelets with husks stacked in slender sampans
The Americans in Ca Mau eat tin- skinned food
play prostitute roulette
rigid love with rifles under the bed
The people race bicycles on Sundays
children play soccer on the parade ground
pigs walk the streets alone but
GIs ride 6 to a fast jeep
In the forest of U Minh
500 pound bombs fall 5 miles
and shake the yellow palm- thatched huts
and the yellowed stucco houses
and the yellow tent O Club in Ca Mau
Soldiers hunt communist water buffalo
with quad .50s and infra- red
they scream howitzers at suspicious rice
but one bullet
makes a helicopter a shotgunned duck
one rocket trips the man- blind radar
off its legs and the Americans leave
and the women sweep after them
Notes for the Veteran's War Protest
Ralph: concerning plans for the local march,
1. Saw the weary demonstration in Washington,
the burning faces of our sad boy warriors
throwing their medals at the president.
2. Think we should emulate but not copy, so:
when the delegation arrives at the state capitol
first read the petition:
"We are not afraid to kill. We are sorry we murdered
our souls. We did as told but we learned how to say NO!
Stop it. Or we will stop you. Don't resist. You can't stop
the ghosts you made of us."
Next, have those who lost legs crawl forward and neatly
stack them. Then bowl the skull of your best killed buddy
down the aisle.
Finally, have the blind push the quadruplegics forward
(they will have knives in their teeth to give to the legislators
to use on themselves). We leave. If they don't use them we
PS. Save the instructions for your grandkids. They'll come in handy.
Still Life with Dead Hippie
Kent State, May 4, 1970
It's all in the point of view.
Suppose you got your
sophored out sophomore
slumped on the sidewalk
in the foreground.
Never made it to the bar.
His buddy's embarrassed
& his girl's outraged.
No fun tonight, Hon!
Or, maybe there's this feminist witch
exercising her anger on
this newly stricken MCP
while the stunned bastard
in bell bottoms looks for reasons.
It could be a pink- faced VC broad
trying to grasp the life
that's just flown from
your unfavorite dumb son.
And she has no right
to cry out in plain sight,
to be so full of pain.
You have to blame her
for the cluck's bad luck.
Of course what it was, was these
dirty, rotten, vicious whore kids- -
standing around watching'
the overarmed, undertrained
National Guard about to go wild.
And yeah, fools, some
chunking rocks & slogans & curses.
Full of dope, sex, books, & unAmerican
antiwar ideas coming out of class,
sitting on & smoking grass.
that something's wrong
& someone has to do something. So,
it's their fault that
it's not their fault.
Then we all find out
there were no snipers
or syphilitic call girl coeds
recruiting for the communists &
that terrified child was just
a teenage runaway.
Barely old enough to bleed
but just the right age
to understand the deed.
And did you ever notice
how that statue
down there in Columbus
of the used car salesman
toting those forged registrations
past the Capitol building,
looks just like Governor Rhodes?
I don't suppose I'll ever forget
the guy in the Vet Center who'd started dreaming
about those hootches he used to crawl into
in the dark and cut throats and the visits he gets
when the President passes through town
and the "mystery" babies
people's old ladies kept having and
the divorce papers they'd get after she'd moved,
sold the house, and bought a new car and the way that
peckerwood was almost too ashamed to say "Thanks"
after I'd saved his life
or the parties where everybody brought a fifth and
nobody left till all the soldiers were dead
and ol' Bear wanting to shoot the lieutenant
(which wasn't a bad idea but he was
too nice a kid to have to do the time)
so I took it away from him or
the night they brought the VC in
on their way to the Chieu Hoi Center
for some R&R) and
nobody told us they were coming
so the bolts going back on the 16s
sounded like a cricket convention
as I scoped the skinny fuckers out real good
and not one came up to my shoulder
or had any real meat on him
and I could have punched them all out real easy
and they looked just like the hired help
but they weren't scared and just kept
watching me watching them until one laughed and
put a V of fingers
and then a thumb and forefinger to his mouth so
I tossed them a canteen and some Say- Lems
and we all smoked and
I didn't even ask for the pack back
The Plot to Assassinate the Statue of Liberty
They were delinquents--acting too late.
Going after the old whore like brave young vandals,
acting the way you do when you're scared and angry,
breaking something no one will miss.
And she was always standing there
where they could see her.
Needing deodorant under at least one arm.
Doing as much harm as stinking could,
as much good as prayer would.
And wearing herself out just standing there,
wearing the same moldy green dress day after day.
And just standing there,
flaunting her diseased, contagious self- -
ruined by that social illness of hers.
So why not go over to Liberty's Island
(they put her there to keep it from spreading)
why no go over there and blind her like justice is,
rob her like hope does?
- What could she do but
- whine what all failures mumble
- I should have been something
- I should have been something that meant something
- I should have stood for something
- And not just stood there,
- in that crappy dress,
- looking like a big tired turd,
- acting like she didn't know every body
- has to flush their own shit.
You wonder why any body would have ever
paid good money for her or bothered to try
to bash her head in. Dumb kids, stealing an empty purse.
She never had nothing no way.
Dumb kids, trying to kill a corpse.
Let it whimper itself to death.
Horace Coleman currently lives in Long Beach. Viet Nam Generation has published In The Grass, a volume of his collected poetry.