I'm eight years old and sitting in class (I strangely recall that my seat was in the middle of second row, on the side away from the window), when the principal comes in to tell us that the president has been shot.
I do not know
what it means, but I know
that it scares me.
My mother meets Senator Robert F. Kennedy while he is campaigning in San Francisco and gets his autograph. I live with my father in a small town in Michigan, where every year leading up to Memorial Day, I sell paper poppies for the VFW.
blood of soldiers on the field
war has come home
I watch the news and see the body count, arranged like a scorecard. The numbers say we are winning, but one of those numbers is from our town, the only casualty that week. I don't know him, but I see his picture on the cover of Life Magazine.
I turn 17 the next month
and try to join the Marine Corp
my father will not sign
As a small-town b
July 3rd, 1978.
Eighty-two degrees outside.
Driving sixty eight mph down Millersville road
past miles of cornfields
And everything is silent.
Except the faint scream of wind escaping through the cracked driver side window
and the dull thud of tire treading on the newly paved road.
trying to understand,
while trying not to think,
while thinking too much,
while being silent.
And suddenly its
March of 1968
And Calley is calling
“kill them all dead”.
And he sees his daughter,
her Agent Orange colored curls
clinging to her face like napalm sticks to melting bodies;
her eyes burning brighter than Hanoi and Haiphong on December 18th, 1972.
He begins to cry
because its still
July 3rd, 1978,
Five pm, and
eighty-two degrees outside.
But in his mind it will always be March of 1968
or December of 1972,
because for him the war is still being fought;
monks and Morrison still burning;
Saigon is still screaming
like it was on April 30, 1975,
He couldn't run fast enough he never could. No matter how hard he tried he couldn't get there before the whistling pierced his ear drums and the bombs exploded. The world always spun, as debris and flames mercilessly assaulted him, burying him alive beneath the cast off and leaving him dying beneath soil and shattered pieces of his men.
He couldn't cry out, he couldn't breathe or scream for help because his throat felt wired shut. The world spun again, his head endlessly echoing the piercing shriek of another missile before the bayonet came down on him.
And suddenly he could scream again.
"Alfred. Alfred. Alfred "
Cold sweat poured down his face as he stared wide-eyed and unseeingly at the man before him. He was shaking so badly, and he couldn't relax any muscle in his body. He was tensed, bracing for the bayonet's inevitable impact while still buried and alone.