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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Unfriendlies

We've had easy duty
all morning long
protecting an engineering unit
searching for mines
on a dirt road
near An Loc
before the rest
of the convoy advances.

We've lit'em up.
Lucky Strikes, Pell Mells, Kents.
Smoked'em down
to the brown stains
on our fingers.
Won a major pissing contest
that'll be talked about
in both base camps
for the duration of the war.

Bet a dozen cases
of beer that their boy
would uncover a mine
so explosive
it would make a toe popper
sound like a command-detonated
250 pound bomb.

While we're chowing
down on our C's,
Wesley, the bear,
spots five or six Viet Cong
moving through the underbrush
like a small herd of gazelles.

An engineer
hands me
a pair of field glasses.
I watch Charles
stepping lightly,
rushing to meet us
in a confrontation
we'll write home about.

I see their pockmarked faces,
witness one of them grimacing,
his fingers tightly gripping
the carrying handle
of the 60mm mortar.
Behind him, the number two man
hauls the ammo.
The rest hold their AK's
in the ready position,
metal and man welded together.

We call S-2, intelligence,
expect instantaneous permission
to rain on their parade.
I feel the old adrenaline rush
surging through my body,
hear everyone locking and loading.

Instead, intelligence orders us
to vacate the premises.
Informs us
there are no unfriendlies here,
convinces us we're seeing ghosts.

We look out into the jungle,
watch moving shadows dissolve.

Copyright 2002 by Victor H. Bausch - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED