November 21, “In Country, 1968,” from NOVEMBER: A Poem in 30 Days

In Country, 1968

thnksgvg

We figured he'd get hit, 
he wore his doom like a pair of fatigues.
He was from near Cincinnati, 
worked at a gravel pit before getting drafted.
Wasn't with us long.

Feck, Daniel Feck. 
It was another night ambush patrol.
He crawled out a few yards in front of our perimeter 
to plant and aim the claymores. 
Standard procedure.
But then we took some sniper rounds, everyone down.
Everyone except Feck.
He panicked, stood up to run back in to hopefulness,
caught a bullet with the crack-crack of an AK-47.
We radioed in a dust-off, but quickly learned he didn't make it.

mass

His was the first KIA in my company since I arrived in-country,
as was his funeral. 
I don't even know if he was Catholic, but a few days following 
the chaplain assembled us for mass on the edge of a dried 
rice paddy, funeral mass. 
In front of a make-shift alter, Feck's M-16 was balanced 
muzzle down onto the bayonet stabbed into Mekong earth 
near Binh Phouc. 
Arranged on top, on the butt end of the weapon,
was his helmet, with someone's dog-tags draped below, not Feck's.
His tags accompanied his body bag to return to Ohio. 

mem

It was Thanksgiving, a stand-down. No patrols.
We heard cassettes; Credence, Aretha, Hendrix, Marvin Gaye, 
Merle Haggard.
The battalion mess sergeant pitched a field kitchen, olive drab 
insulated cambros filled with slices of pressed turkey breast, 
instant mashed potatoes, thin gravy, sans giblets, 
jelled cranberry sauce out of a #10 can, rolls, butter, pumpkin pie. 
Cans of tepid Busch beer.
News from back in "The World" informed us that Ohio State 
soundly defeated Michigan 50-14.

"Purple haze all in my brain
Lately things just don't seem the same
Acting funny, but I don't know why
Excuse me while I kiss the sky"

 

excerpted from
NOVEMBER: A Poem in 30 Days
in memory of the last month of life of Lester C Coe (1925-1978)

 

About orangeacorn

We are, I believe, and everything is, in perpetual unfolding/enfolding/evolving. By surface appearances, we're in turmoil and fearfullness, but in fact our existence is on the edge of a new way, beyond the US versus THEM we have grown with. I encourage you to join me over coffee or tea in face-to-face encounters. I call this exercise, "CAFFEINE COMMUNION: Encounters with Paradigm Pioneers." I'm a Columbus, Ohio husband, father and citizen. I practice string band sounds from the ridges of Pocahontas County, West Virginia, the vortex of the ancient drone.
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