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Glorious, Manly, Brave – Another Myth Captured in the Fog of War

Fog of War

homeless veterans writing class project

the bones of our enemy

deep inside, the verdant paddy

aquamarine, he goes into another heart

no country for Yankees

Vietnam, invasions against people

one thousand years, yet he’s there, old

at twenty-two, listening to John

Wayne bravado, men as boys

baseball and apple pie

in those swamps, twenty

hues of emerald at dusk

sky as red glow

of ember, a photographer’s

golden hour, orange luminescent

he comes to me, 79, Rick,

LT, or Lieutenant Rick, working

as scribe, 22-year-old journalist

in land as far from

Eugene as Alaska is from Tahiti

but he’s at shelter, says

he’s with AIDS, says

he remembers Hollywood

campy days, threatre

with a big “T,” song, dance

a freer mind

a world where “faggot”

is lost on

battlefield

1962, he launches into platoon

moving into enemy green,

territory for holding point, indigenous

people liberate shots, free-fire

we call Viet Cong

flash tracer report

but Rick says

light at sunset,

perfect for shooting, 35mm

Nikon, his friend stands

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holds aperture ring

composes, in that angelic

illumination, shot for war, captures

invading soldiers, his

snap, a moment split second

before slug zeroes into skull

the real moment

is the kiss he

gives, dead man

soaked in elephant grass

down, he is the link, Lt. Rick

holding breathless photographer

a kiss on temple

the rigor mortis Rick’s

as medics pull him

away, war, not our

country, not Vietnam’s

war, but America’s

war, sprayed like

napalm on ancient people

back to stone age

glory, televised memories

no faggots in World

War Two, Lieutenant Rick

the fag, homo on battlefield

blood of buddy, those good

red-blooded grunts cursing

their own, Rick, as photographer

lays dead, a kiss on the

last respiring cell

of dead photographer

who caught

the last light

just right before death

the perfect depth of field

perfect photograph

but not enough to end

Rick’s war.

Paul Haeder