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Vietnam Generation Journal

Volume 4, Number 3-4

November 1992

Texts made available by the Sixties Project, are generally copyrighted by the Author or by Viet Nam Generation, Inc., all rights reserved. These texts may be used, printed, and archived in accordance with the Fair Use provisions of U.S. Copyright law. These texts may not be archived, printed, or redistributed in any form for a fee, without the consent of the copyright holder. This notice must accompany any redistribution of the text. A few of the texts we publish are in the public domain. For information on a specific text, contact Kalí Tal. The Sixties Project, sponsored by Viet Nam Generation Inc. and the Institute of Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, is dedicated to using electronic resources to provide routes of collaboration and make available primary and secondary sources for researchers, students, teachers, writers and librarians interested in the 1960s.

Poetry By David Connolly


Thoughts on a Monday Morning

Originally written after a memorial service for 59 troopers from the Second Squadron of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment who were killed in action or who died as a result of wounds received when ambushed by an entrenched, numerically superior force while on an operation in the Michelin Rubber Plantations, near the town of Dau Tieng, in what was called South Vietnam.

Cold, despite my blanket.
Lonely, amongst my friends.
Wondering, with the things I've done,
can I ever make amends?

Sickened by this needless waste.
Stoic, to those around.
Wondering, what will break me,
the next fight, or death, or sound?

Missing, those who love me.
Hoping, for the next month or so.
Wondering, how will I ever fit in,
with people who just don't know?

Terrified, by the death grins.
Afraid, I'll be one of the dead.
Wondering, why did I ever think,
it wouldn't be as bad as they said?

Used, by the rich of my country.
Duped, by those I looked up to.
Wondering, how can I tell those,
who blindly wave the red, white, and blue?

I hate every fucking one of you
who make dollars from our deaths.
I hate every fucking one of you
for my friends' dying breaths.

I hate every fucking one of you,
banker or corporation head.
I hate every fucking one of you
for so many, so young, and dead.

I hate every fucking one of you
with your pin-striped, dark blue suits.
I hate every fucking one of you
for all those empty boots.


All The Stars Do Not Spangle

With the fervency of youth
and the pumping vigor of early manhood
we pledged allegiance,
and never once questioned if it was due.

In classes, on teams,
in gangs, in platoons,
we were taught what we'd need to know
if ever honored to defend you.

We left to battle a people
of stone, earth, water, and war,
who were far, far too hardened
to ever yield.

The first of the war I saw
was an officer in a jeep,
shooting gleefully
at a farmer in his field.

20 July 69

On Ambush

Piercing the night, from the right
the RTO whispered, "Brothers,
an American is walking on the moon!"

We all looked up, then forward,
into some poor papasan's
thousand year old rice paddy,
pulverized by the planes
into round puddles of puppy shit.

Some dead serious, totally sane,
nineteen year old boonie-rat said,
"I don't see him out there."


Our Fourth LT

When that LT got wasted,
just about cut in half,
we spoke of him,
had a toke for him,
smilingly remembering
when he told the general,
"Sir, I have come to consider
my primary mission
in Vietnam to be
to get my own young ass
and those of my men
the fuck out of here, alive.
It just happened
that this time
the Army's mission
and mine, coincided.

He had smartly snapped
one beaut of a salute
and spun on his heel.
We thought when he faced us,
with his shiny, new Silver Star,
the wiseass would be smiling.


Christmas Standdown

They brought us in for the truce
and we got drunk, on our ass drunk.

After shooting up the Christmas tree
sent by my girl,
and smoking a lot of Cambo dope,
we dipped the LT,
head first, into the pisser,
blaming him, or rather, his uniform,
because we were there,
not home, opening presents,
cuddling and copping a feel
from our girl, under the tree.

We got a month's confinement each,
for assaulting the person
and the uniform of an officer,
got called animals for what we did,
(but it was OK to kill Vietnamese)
and spent Christmas together,
the three of us, in Long Binh Jail.

LT, you were KIA in June, at twenty one,
trying to save one of us from death,
I'm sorry for what I did to you.

You didn't deserve that.
But your uniform, for killing you
and so many others, for nothing,
it deserved worse.


One of My Best Friends

There was spit on the neck
of the offered canteen.
He was a black guy,
but I had eight empties.
So I drank.

Months later,
on an observation post,
he engaged a probe.
Only I lived
to strip
his dumb, dead, brave, black ass
of what we really needed.

The shame
for what
he never knew I felt,
was heavier than his ruck.

No Lie, GI

We had a deal, he and I,
of no bullshit between us.
If one of us got wounded,
the other wouldn't lie.
So when he got hit
and he asked me,
"How's my leg?"
I looked him straight in the eye
and told him, "It's fine."
It looked fine to me,
laying over there,
looked as good as new.
No Lie, GI.


In His Father's Footsteps

Having slapped a machete,
then a rock, from his hand,
I pushed the young boy
at gunpoint
toward the other villagers,
away from the still form
of his father.

Mere words were all I left
with which he could fight.
"Someday, GI, mebbe you die!"

The B-40 shrapnel
that weeks later
tore into me,
hit no harder.


Letters From My Mom

She wrote that the jungle looked just lovely,
was it as pretty as in the pictures?
And my friends had such funny nicknames.
And why were we all so thin and pale,
isn't Vietnam hot and sunny?
She hoped I was eating right
and taking care of my teeth.
And did we have to have so many guns?
Someone might get hurt.
My cousin got into the Marine Reserves
and his training was very, very hard.
And all her friends were asking her
why no one smiled in the pictures I sent.


for Nguyen Ngoc Hung, once an infantryman
in the People's Army of Vietnam

hawser--a stout rope used to moor ships.

I stand, looking that way
over the water
and let go the hawser of hate,
as heavy as the dead,
in hand or in memory.

And across the pond
stands someone much like me
weary of the weight
of old hate.

From each side
we watch Kieu's ship,
noting how her planks,
mostly yellow,
some blond, to tan, to ebony,
fashioned by time,
toil and tears,
fit so cunningly.

And by and away sails
the harried ship, Viet-Nam,
able to take little notice
of those in her wake.

Take my hand, Brother;
we'll keep each other afloat.


Corporal Thach

First Confirmed NVA Kill

I see you still;
your shining, black hair,
your high cheekbones
and bared teeth,
your glowing, searching eyes,
testing each step
as if it were your last.

You flinched
as the angry hornets
I let fly
snapped you up
then let you drop,
a jumble of arms and legs
and black and white scarf.

Your last reflex
killed the man next to me
but it's your death
I remember.

There's no pride, no regret,
no way I'll forget
your death until mine.


Anh Hung

(Elder Brother Hung) who was once a PAVN Grunt

I told him that I was wounded in our war.
He said that made us brothers,
for he also bore the mark of pain.

I asked was the pain worth winning the war?
He only sees that too many, on both sides,
have suffered, and still do.

I told him we tired of the death for no gain.
He only knew war, his whole life, and accepted
it as the buffalo does the plow.

I asked if he volunteered as I had done.
He said he did, but would rather
have taught children to read and write,
than to fight and die.

A volume of David Connolly's poetry, Lost in America, was published in 1995 by Viet Nam Generation, Inc.

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