Sunday, March 7, 2010

vietnam poem


Bullet has muzzle velocity, so great
1235 feet per second
and 1.2 seconds later it meets Steel Helmet
who held up as well as he might, Bullet
but Bullets force was great and he
was melting and vaporizing and
spritzing out tiny blobs of lead
as Helmet gave in
inward bulged the steal and
on rushed Bullet 1.204 seconds
after leaving Muzzle-
jagged edges behind him he met
Hair who held him up nowise in his Journey
Skin gave way to mushroomed Bullet and
Bones deformed at his will
671 feet a second he went as he tore
vessels too surprised to bleed
then Bullet nosed through soft gray-white stuff
hardly hard as butter
First he cut through the memory of Mom
then a small gray dog
through a first car, a wreck, but what the hell
it ran
through a huge area of scraped knees and
pulled pigtails
a little bit of fear...about this
about bullets
then through a first kiss and the warm soft
skin of a girl and
plans for a boat--someday
and tear--
of acrid wine first tasted--
the remembrance of raucous birds calling in
the soft gray dawns of winter
of food cooking warm and pungent--
of sex and school and sandwiches and sorrows
then he was through that map of life and out
the other side easy as punch
flicking Helmet's edge
continuing on
erractic now, partly flattened
going 662 feet per second
slowing down until 853 feet on he
rests himself in a palm tree
sitting there warmly--
duty done--
to map Hell where Paradise had been.

--Ronald J. Willis

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