Vietnam War Memorial

Image by TTVo via Flickr

As my brother readies to deploy for a 3rd time to Iraq, war has been on my mind. I saw a movie about the Vietnam War in a small private cinema at a writers’ conference when I was 16 years old. It deeply impacted me; I couldn’t speak, so I wrote. Someday, someday when my brother is safely here on US soil to stay, the horrid photos he shared with us from his first tour will likely become a poem just as this scene from the movie did. Below is the original version written when I was 16, as well as version created following comments made by fellow poets at the poetry forum, Poetry Here And Now. I would love readers to share which they like best or any other comments.

Original version:

Brave Cravens

Gathering scattered bits of brain
some red with intensity
some milk white with no meaning
some blue with the night

Crusted brown blood
on his shattered skull
maps their traveled terrain
his matted hair, their losses

His eye – fixed in a dusty stare –
gazes on a blazing wall,
one eye will not open
the other will not close

Brave craven wipe
muddied hands on thighs
staring here
then blankly there

They turn one by one
a few glancing back
as they tramp away
for no reason
no reason

~Callisse J. DeTerre, copyright October 1987

Fifth version:

No Reason

Crusted brown blood on the scalp
of their buddy’s shattered skull
maps their traveled terrain
his matted hair, their losses

They gather scattered bits of brain
some bloody intense red,
some white with no meaning,
some endless night mosquito blue

His eye – fixed in a dusty stare
gazes on the wall set ablaze,
his other will not open
this one will not close

Done, the brave cravens wipe
blood-muddied hands on thighs
staring here then blankly there
past the dead, enemies still

And now turning one by one,
as they tramp away,
a few glance back for no
reason, no reason at all

~Callisse J. DeTerre, copyright October 1987, last revised 5/02/11

Read more poetry or get feedback on your own by joining at:Poetry Here And Now
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