Viet Vet

Under his pillow he keeps a revolver,
a lump of steel that coarsens his ear;
under the bed he stashes porn albums,
images fading as his pleasure wanes;
under a loose floorboard he stows a bar
of gold which he fondles like a woman
on weekends with the curtains drawn.

His years in the service left him a cripple,
a nervous wreck from killing little people.
His lungs are laced with orange poison;
his mind is planted with mines still primed –
and if I were a country star like John Prine
I would lament his sad fate in a minor key,
staying just this side of sentimentality.

Another casualty tallied on the blackboard,
his injuries will surely burden the enemy
long after the war ends. For his service
we reward comrade sniper with an extra
ration of rice. On a portable phonograph
we play the national anthem and music
ricochets down the tunnel towards Saigon.

In Nashville they did not celebrate defeat
when the copter plucked the ambassador
from the onrushing liberation armies.
Nor do they exult today when Syrians kill
takfiri child molesters, for the heart is
unable to reach beyond its icy terror
until love explodes indiscriminately.

Douglas Smith, formerly a teacher of Anthropology at York University, is a homeopathic physician.and author of several books on alternative medicine. It is claimed (although Dissident Voice has no proof of this!) that Doug and his partner grow the best garlic in Haliburton County. Read other articles by Douglas.