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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 James Scofield


Khe Sanh
24 January 1968

A tear runs down the lamp shade
from the tip of his bayonet, I can see
canvas flapping, bodies rapping
man, oh man, some rout, some rout
to take home--tongues in gentlemen;
red white and blue, zippers up!
yes, yes, lights out.


For Christopher Ricks

As night moves off his splintered face, silence
lies on silence; the becoming light blinds him:
He hears canvas flapping--with no will to rise,
the sergeant's order
shrapnel in his throat,
he rests, recoilless on the balk, his eyes
on a seething Lamp aged to a stony violence.
On the sixth day of January, a canopy
of clouds building, dispersing above her;
snow nipped robins, their breasts pushed high
to the low winter sun--broke their thin song.
And she, his mother, raged at the spitting sky,
her son now a rhapsody of memory.
He hears a bird scratching for his worm, and knows
the skipping heart as his own; a liquid sound
like heaving slush, the harrowed brine of blood
foams from his black-purple head; something moves
his boots--and dogs drink from his chest; mud
and shadows splashing, he cries and he cries then goes.
The breath of cherry blossoms pink in the air,
she sits on her porch, her heart a space of stone,
consuming the civil nakedness of the flowers.
She seems a face without eyes or mouth; silence
lies on silence, as time granulates the hours.
The fallen are buried between the crib and the candle.

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