Table of Contents

Draft Notice

Hometown Hero

Uncle Herb

Jumping Ship

Unfriendlies

Car Wash

White Mice

Droopy Dawg

The Boot

R & R

Buddy System

Civil War of the Soul

What They Wanted

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Poetry by Victor Henry

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Uncle Herb

People visiting our 1940s house
near the railroad tracks
on the east side of town
in Lodi for the first time
see the photo of Uncle Herb
in a boxer's stance:
Golden Gloves champ,
"Ft. Riley" monogrammed
on his trunks.
Because we look alike,
twins perhaps,
they think
it's a photo of me.

Mother gets misty-eyed.
Tells them the story
of her younger brother,
a sergeant in the 194th Tank Battalion
captured in the Philippines,
survived the Bataan Death March,
the POW camps,
only to lose his life on the Arisan Maru,
a Japanese Hell Ship,
sunk by an American submarine
October 24th, 1944 in the China Sea.
American POWs sent to Japan
as slave labor.

Our family revered Uncle Herb.
The war hero who never saw
his first born son.
When my turn came
to protect our country
to fight for democracy
to combat communism
I willingly went to Vietnam.

One cold, nasty night
in December
during Advanced Unit Training
I phone from Custer Hill.
Mother, I say, Herb trained here,
was in a mechanized unit as well.

Fear, a foreign soldier,
flows from my lips
like a glacier.
She reassures me
nothing terrible will happen.
And in her words,
suspended between speech
and silence,
I hear Uncle Herb's voice.


Copyright 2002 by Victor H. Bausch - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED