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Nobody Gets Off the Bus:
The Viet Nam Generation Big Book

Volume 5 Number 1-4
March 1994

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 SuAnne Doak



She looks at architecture
of bone, knuckle, skin,
the ballerina ease
of finger movement
and thinks of death,
that old lover, ally, enemy.
She's run after him
too many times,
razor in hand.
But, here's the same hand,
attached to this stubborn
engine, the body
with its chugging heart,
its veined pipeline
inside scarred wrists,
pumping blood--
that other familiar
she keeps digging up
to make sure it glistens
the same as it did on GIs
in Da Nang, and on her hands
that sealed veins dripping
red onto the floor,
picked out shrapnel
like metal-jacketed lice
from biceps, knees, ribs,
and her fists
that pounded failing chests,
her fingers entwined
with soldiers who lay
in pieces on the table,
her wrist strong against theirs
boneless as sand,
her lips inflating
their rubber mouths,
the respirator whump, whump
flattened to silence
as bodies cooled to gray.
Now she nurses
a bottle--puffs, blows
into it until it breathes back
bourbon, holds it
like it's alive.


A furry eye opened halfway
in its dish of red petals
is what he paints,
every day, all day.
Each morning, a fresh canvas
glistens white
in the barred sunrise.
He flexes his hands
like a surgeon,
each finger playing
a concerto as he sits,
stares at the blank square.
Then he carves precise
red across white.
Why poppies? I ask.
He shrugs. They remind him
of humid red sunsets
on the Mekong,
red parasols carried
by Saigon whores,
of his buddy napalmed
near Soc Trang,
his eyes burned black
in his head, opened
like a red blossom.
That night, he dreamed
poppies sponging up blood.
The next patrol, he carved
skin like petals
from captured VC.
Now he paints poppies.
His fingers spread crimson
as the sun rises.
The poppy blooms.

SuAnne Doak, 1304 W. 13th, Cisco, TX 76437. SuAnne Doak has published poetry in journals such as Concho River Review, RiverSedge, REAL, New Texas, and New Mexico Humanities Review. She teaches English at Cisco Junior College and edits a literary journal, Cross Timbers Review.

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