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Jon Tribble: War

Red maple, sweetgum slashed and torn

out by the roots so we could build

a jungle underneath the pines, so our

camouflage would blend us with crows’

panic, with honeysuckle and dry needles

sharpening our every feint and blur

as we spied out the enemy—ourselves.


Combatants from a neighborhood of loss

and disappointment poured into the camp

from the tar paper houses, trailer parks

that shadowed the barbed wire fences

enclosing the lake and acres of woods.

Children bussed to city schools by day

leveled their fury in our engagements.


Casualty figures from Cronkite and

Chancellor drove us into the hard

tumble and scuffle of Army recon,

VC and POWs in the neverending

ground war we waged after school,

before dinner and families beckoned,

releasing us from the frontlines.


We rigged booby traps with saplings

bent taut and ready under heavy stones,

pits concealed with scattered limbs

and leaves, vines we dangled across

paths like tripwires.  Launching

fungus ears like open hands we scoured

oak logs to find for their special rot,


we battered one another with everything—

bark, pine cones, loose shoes, gum balls

with that pin cushion of spikes.  Nothing

and no one escaped our missions of search

and destroy, slash and burn seriousness

that released us from the nightly news,

left Hanoi, Da Nang, Hue, Saigon, all


nightmares half a world away, a world

we feared and didn’t understand.  We

fought out our childhoods in the screens

of withering branches, the backdrop of

our battles wilting and dying behind us

as we kept adding new green leaves, fresh

and supple spring limbs to our illusion.


Copyright 2017 Jon Tribble

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This entry was posted on October 4, 2017 by in Poetry, War and Peace and tagged , , , , , , .

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