Vox Populi: A Public Sphere for Politics and Poetry
–for Denis Lane
This other Nam vet comes to see me and wants me to see
his manuscript. He brings this nosh, some bagels, so I say
OK, let’s see it–Yea, OK, I’ll read it. So we got some time till later so we swap some Nam stories. He says
This is what’s pitiful, man. I’m visitin’ Jim Mills, this fuck-up all wounded you see. It’s this hospital, Nha Trang. From a distance it’s all this commotion. But so what? It’s Nam. I got directions to Jim Mills and I got to pass this commotion. I start up some stairs, begin to look a little into this
second floor when halfway up the flight I see nuthin’ but runnin’ feet and screams. Just runnin’ feet, some bunches of blood pools and some screams. I got to turn
before I see completely in and there’s the nurse all white right there
at the door. I got to ask Hey What The Hell Lady? but she’s just sittin’ , just
sittin’ at this desk. Imagine report
writin’ at the door of the screams. So I look.
The screams are a dozen guys–I can’t tell black from whose white and they’re all runnin’ and bangin’ walls and leavin’ whole body–I mean the full body on the wall
blood stains and they’re naked ’cause all the napalm left was
no skin. Nuthin’. Not even no boots.
So I beg the nurse
Do Somethin’! But she says Any More Morphine And They’ll Die! Finally I see she’s just as freaked and fakin’ calm and nobody knows what to do so I go off on her when one guy runs up at my face and he’s just goin’ Mama Mama Mama Mama Mama Mama Mama Mama Mama Mama Mama Mama and like that.
(I always feel bad for that nurse ’cause she’s maybe 23 and in charge of a platoon of the dead or what’s left.) So I walk off, find some quiet and just stuff my mouth with my fatigue shirt and scream till I can’t stop. And when Jim Mills later asks What’s that back there man? I say, you know how we said, Don’t mean nuthin’, man. It just don’t mean nuthin’.
Copyright 2006 John Samuel Tieman.