Nobody Gets Off the Bus:
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My buddy Jerry drove the jeep,
I rode shotgun up front,
a new guy manned the mounted
machine gun in the back as
we drove past Vietnamese farmers
walking from the fields, heading for
their village ahead, and against my
protest Jerry mischievously drove
as close to the farmers as he could,
forcing them to jump off the road,
he laughed each time a surprised
farmer leaped for safety but the girl
on the bicycle did not move out of
the road, we sideswiped her knocking
her to the ground where she lay still.
I yelled at Jerry made him drive
back to the unconscious girl, where
we put her in the jeep, drove her into
the village where Jerry and the new
guy carried her to the village doctor
while I alone guarded the jeep and
stood behind the mounted gun as three
hundred villagers in total silence
surrounded me, shoulder-to-shoulder
in a closely packed circle they were
a single stare floating on hot hatred,
I wondered when the boil would begin,
when I would be left limbless lifeless.
After a fifteen minute hour Jerry
returned said the girl was fine with
no broken bones, as the unblinking
crowd silently parted barely enough
for us to drive slowly through and I
was relieved we had done the right
thing after having done something wrong,
sorry for our mistake, more honest
diplomats than the diplomats.
Rod Farmer, University of Maine at Farmington, has been a farm laborer, dump truck driver, grocery store clerk, soldier (fourteen months in Vietnam via the draft, 1969-70), and a high school history and social science teacher. At present he is professor of social science/multicultural education at the University of Maine at Farmington. He has received three Fulbright Fellowships to study in India, Pakistan and Israel and two grants to study and travel in Japan. He's had over 350 poems published in over 100 journals and magazines, including Black Fly Review, Black Buzzard Review, The Cafe Review, Chaminade Literary Review, Dog River Review, ELF, Ellipsis, Galley Sail Review, Phase and Cycle, Psychopoetica, Sandscript, Skylark, and Riverrun. His book of poetry, Universal Essence, was published in 1986. He's also had over fifty articles and essays published in such journals as The Humanist, Maine Historical Society Quarterly, Mind Matters Review, The New England Journal of History, Poet, and Self and Society.