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 Viet Nam Generation Journal & Newsletter

V3, N3 (November 1991)

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 Jon Forrest Glade


James and I had eaten, sold
or given all the acid away
by a quarter to twelve.
When the cops arrived,
one minute after midnight,
there was nothing they could do.
It was in us not on us,
so fuck your warrant
and your brand-new law.

Matchheads ignited like Hiroshima
and left trails in the dark
more brilliant than the tracers
I would later fire
in Southeast Asia.

It wasn't the vodka or the amphetamines
so much as too many choruses
of "Bartender's Blues."
James would shut down the bar,
gas up his car,
and find himself someplace new.
He bartended himself to death
and died in a nursing home,
a thin old man of thirty-one
who warned strangers, "Man,
you gotta take care of your health."

Sometimes, when the shrapnel moves
and I can't sleep, I question James'
assumption that God takes care of drunks
and people on LSD.
Flipping matchsticks across the lawn,
we weren't even fireflies,
but we thought we were the dawn.

Adventure Calls

In grade school, I was shown episodes
of a travelogue, "Adventure Calls."
I remember beautiful French Indochina.
The narrator called the city of Hue
"the Paris of the Orient."

Today I'm taking snapshots
of bullet holes in the walls
of French Colonial buildings.
There are ruins all over Hue,
and the Perfume River
smells just like shit.

Displaying the Flag

Back in the jungle,
we would divide the contents
of a fallen man's pack.
Take his cigarettes, his lighter,
packets of pre-sweetened kool-aid,
ammo, camera, transistor radio,
C rations and paperback books.
The CO would write a letter home,
describing heroics
which had never happened,
and mail it to the bereaved.

Lately, I can't stand
to drink in the Legion,
where I've heard the same lies
so long they've grown comfortable.
Because, now, my fellow vets
are fat and forty,
and believe in POWs in Vietnam
the way some people believe in UFOs.
There's nothing wrong
with displaying the flag,
but I'm not up
for another round of beer and shots,
and I don't want to sit here
and listen to how America
is finally standing tall
and help re-write history
on a field of blue.

See Bill Shields' review of Jon Forrest Glade's Photographs of the Jungle in the Reviews section of this issue.

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