His Life in His Poetry. Born 1947 in Bogalusa, Louisiana Served in the Army 1965-67 in Vietnam, earning a Bronze star. Correspondent and editor for Southern Cross, a military newspaper. After service, completed B.A., M.A., and M.F.A. Degrees in 1979. Themes from his life. Racism War
Born 1947 in Bogalusa, Louisiana
Served in the Army 1965-67 in Vietnam, earning a Bronze star.
Correspondent and editor for Southern Cross, a military newspaper.
After service, completed B.A., M.A., and M.F.A. Degrees in 1979
Jazz and the Blues
Musicdivides the evening. I close my eyes & can see men drawing lines in the dust. America pushes through the membrane of mist & smoke, & I'm a small boy again in Bogalusa. White Only signs & Hank Snow. But tonight I walk into a place where bar girls fade like tropical birds. When I order a beer, the mama-san behind the counter acts as if she can't understand, while her eyes skirt each white face, as Hank Williams calls from the psychedelic jukebox. We have played Judas where only machine-gun fire brings us together. Down the street blackGIshold to their turf also. An off-limits sign pulls me deeper into alleys, as I look for a softness behind these voices wounded by their beauty & war.Back in the bush at Dak To & KheSanh, we foughtthe brothers of these women we now run to hold in our arms. There's more than a nation inside us, as black & white soldiers touch the same lovers minutes apart, tasting each other's breath, without knowing these rooms run into each other like tunnels leading to the underworld.
War leaves lasting images in one’s mind.
Forgive me, soldier.
Forgive my right hand
for pointing you
to the flawless
tree line now
outlined in my brain.
There was so much
bloodsky at daybreak
in Pleiku, but I won’t say
those infernal guns
blinded me on that hill.
Mistakes piled up men like clouds
pushed to the dark side.
Sometimes I try to retrace
fingers down the map
telling less than a woman’s body—
we followed the grid coordinates
in some battalion commander’s mind.
If I could make my mouth
unsay those orders,
I’d holler: Don’t
move a muscle. Stay put,
keep your fucking head
Last night while making love
I cried out, Hit the dirt!
I’ve tried to swallow my tongue.
You were a greenhorn, so fearless,
even foolish, & when I said go,
Henry, you went dancing on a red string
of bullets from that tree line
as it moved from a low cloud.