Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Guard Duty on a Dusty Road (a poem out of Vietnam--1971)

In Vietnam I wrote one poem and only one (1971):

Guard Duty on a Dusty Road

I’m out here on guard duty
rifle and all…
(sent a letter to Rachel).
The dust on the path
that leads to my hut
(near the ammo dump)
is dusty and rough…
not much to do here
just talk to yourself
count the hours
as they go by
(make sure the VC
don’t get too near);
wait for the five-ton
to arrive, take me back
(off this dusty road)
to 611 Ordnance,
which I call home!

Note: I remember thinking (at the time), I should send a poem home, perhaps to my mother, or send it to someone, anybody, to let them know I was alive, even a magazine or newspaper came to mind. I remember, the day was long, and hot, I was in Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam, and was selected for guard duty, and when the truck picked me up, to take me back, we drove down along the South China Sea, a smoother road there, and up into our campsite, several miles from the three ammo dumps that occupied the peninsula. I put the poem in my pocket, and forgot I left it there, would not realize it for a spell, and then tucked it away. The poem was written about June, 1971. It was shortly after this time, we got hit by rockets, which were at 2:00 AM in the morning, and I’d have to go this time inside of the ammo dump to guard, not sure what we were guarding, the rockets came all round us, and some within meters of me. The VC would blow up the Air Force dump that night which was next to Charlie Dump, (one man got killed) and our dump being Alpha. It was a trying night. Anyhow, after many years, the poem appears, and for the first time since 1971, it is available for reading. It doesn’t say much, just a hot day, on guard duty, far away.

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