Five Voices in Dinh Tuong Province
1. Pvt. Parker’s Lament
In Cho Gau village there’s not much to loot, and no young men we could interrogate. No bars, no Cokes, no grass, no prostitute, nothing to amuse us while we wait for higher ups deciding Cho Gau’s fate. 2. Pvt. Simmons at the Perimeter At dusk the sandbags cool, the noises stop, mosquitoes rally for the next attack, and darkness floods my bunker to the top. When all around Viet Nam turns to black I grope for flares to push the shadows back. 3. Pvt. Shaw at the Cowboy Bar Just yesterday some black guy took a round behind the steam bath, near Soul Brothers Place. Some Motown tune drowned out the rifle’s sound but I could see what happened by his face. He seemed surprised by death in such a place. 4. Artillery Sgt. Allen By 0900 hours my crew can see the ville we’ve been erasing from the map, where it appears as small black squares. Tan Phap. That gray smoke shows you where it used to be. 5. 1st Sgt. Coffey at the EM Club Those grunts just in from ambush, minus two, have shut the jukebox down to hear the sound made by the others’ absence, something new. I find their sober silence too profound. I’ll stand those new men to another round.
Five Voice in Dinh Tuong Province was published in Kentucky Poetry Review