Two klics outside the port city,
underbrush hid clusters of olive clad kids,
bellies flat against slick earth
wet with mud and blood. Days here
fell fast into night, and when dark came,
you prayed for light. Nights were bad,
you listened with strained ears through
a din of strange sounds, for sounds that
were stranger still. Constant fear kept you awake
like the mummy did in the fifth grade;
trembling in your G.I. Joe sleeping bag
on TimmyMcPherson's living room floor.
None of us knew scared like this,
but we all caught on real quick.
Our backyard battle plans and monster movie
anecdotes didn't apply in this show. By the
second night in the bush, we had all lost faith
in Hollywood. Somebody forgot to yell cut
so the stand-ins could take our places. It all made
you wonder what Audie had been singing about.
Sometimes, you imagined that you smelled fish sauce,
the sour odor of charleys with full bellies-
ready to hunt all night on papered feet,
mute yellow draculas with a taste for cold blood.
Every now and then we got lucky; the point man
would hear the low squeak of silk bat wings
in time to thwart the midnight buffet.
But most times we weren't lucky, and some of us
joined the army of the undead; coming back to star
in the nightmares of the rest of us.
And we wondered what G.I. Joe might do
on a bad night in Haiphong; where the matinee
horrors were real, and none of us could find
the zippers down the backs of the monster suits.