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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 David Vancil

The Thing: First Date

I'm the one who's supposed to be brave
when, askew, the camera slants upward
and shadows creep into the doorway.
But my legs jump onto a seat sticky
from spilled cokes and greasy popcorn.
I scream just like a girl. She giggles.
Feeling wan and weak, I release my grip.
On the other side, her uninvited friend
jokes about cold hands and warm hearts.
I want to strangle this creep from hell
and abandon her mangled form
in the gloom for another customer
to stumble over, her bulging eyes
bespeaking horror. When the silly
twit suggests I plant a kiss on willing
lips, I demur. I long to kill everyone
just like the creature parading
across the screen, knowing I'll never
call this girl back again, certain
she and her weasel friend will wile
away hours wondering why I never
kissed her lips, know they'll squeal
I screamed like a girl in the Bijou.

The Carnival Elephant's Burial

They had to cut a hole in the parking
lot and dig the pit with bulldozers, so
Edith, the troupe's remaining elephant,
could perform the ceremony, pushing
Danielle's dark, slack bulk over the edge
to slide and then roll down the deep incline.
Dressed in rumpled khakis and smelling of
fresh hay and his own sweat, her old trainer
recalled how Danielle used to filch Edith's
fruit when her back was turned. Blended into
shadow, he longed for sudden, absolute
escape--cool rain, the sound of truck motors,
a florid place lacking all forms of gray,
the ability to forget all names.


The Homesick Patrol

II Corps, Republic of Vietnam, 1969

One of my fingers hooked into the belt
loop of the guy leading me to a place
on a green map--six numbers that marked our
spot. While fat mosquitoes waltzed in my sweat,
a bitch-moon watched me move with an evil
eye. Behind me my sergeant counted on
me to get him home, clinging close. He glued
his ear to the hissing black radio
and stuck his mouth to the mouthpiece, ready
to report. I was the lieutenant. So
I practiced coordinates, while like a blind
man, I followed our unfamiliar host
down a well-worn trail, praying for quiet,
praying to walk on through the inky night.

David Vancil, of Terre Haute, Indiana, served in Viet Nam in 1969 in Khanh Hoa Province as a military advisor. In 1992 he self-published a collection of poems, The Art School Baby, and in 1995 Viet Nam Generation, Inc. published another collection, The Homesick Patrol.

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