Sunday, September 11, 2011

Child of the 60s

This is a revised version of a poem originally published in my book, Somewhere on the Edge of Words (still in print). Written in honor of all who served in Vietnam, I post it now in the sad belief that a child of this era should be as soul drenched as I was back then, for all our American boys serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A copy of the original version was left at the Vietnam memorial Wall in Washington, DC, in October, 2000, before any of us had any clue of the new tragedies yet to come.
A Child of the 60s
A child of the 60s
I toddled about on wobbly legs as the world stumbled
and a president died.
And they all cried
all those people on the news and in the Life
magazine that lay untouched on the coffee table.
I touched it.
I ran my hand along the cover
my chubby baby fingers examining a widow’s black veil
a flag covered casket.
Without knowing what or why or how
a nation’s tears came down as
rain upon my soul
drenching me to the very core.
Then there was war.
It was an old war a cold war though they said the jungles were hot
and deadly.
And our boys died.
American boys died.
I looked to the neighbor boys there in our cozy little corner of cookie-cutter suburbia
and wondered if they too would die
somewhere in a hot green jungle
in a green and red Technicolor jungle like the ones I saw at night on Daddy’s Zenith
jungles as far away as the little cabin up north that took an eternity to drive to
where I could hear the bombs go off at night
as our boys learned how to fight playing
games at Camp Grayling.
But I knew it was real
as real as the musty sheets Mommy set under my chin
when she tucked me in to protect me from the distant thunder that was not thunder

and boomed its way into my dreams
reminding me to pray
as I did every day for our American boys.
A child of the 60s
still tasting the salt of my nation’s drying tears
I was confused by the anger that festered on the evening news
so many different views when all that really mattered
all that should matter was our American boys.
A child of the 60s
I saw my nation stumble and all I could do was reach out my hand
my tiny useless child hand
in the impossible hope that
somehow it might be enough to guide one boy home.

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