Saturday, December 22, 2007

Greg McBride: IN-COUNTRY: DAY ONE, 1969

Duffel bag stuffed in the back, he bounced down
Cong Ly on the suicide seat. The sergeant crowed
they’d stolen the mud-scarred jeep the night
before on a whorehouse street in Cholon.

His starched jungle fatigues and boots, a joke
in a city of millions, .45 hard
on his hip. Dressed in yellow, Saigon hummed
like a factory. Fuel-stench hung like a scrim.

The sun seared down on angels in ao dais,
silk panels in a red soft as wet blood,
in the green of his mother’s eyes.
They skimmed the simmering sidewalks,

at ease in their beauty under the palm-leaf
shade of conical nons, the calm rise
of dry heat, skirts wafting in spiraled mists
of nuoc mam, the smog of fried steam rolls.

That night, he sauntered down Tu Do Street.
The bar girls called and the cyclos spat
their two-cycled rasp. Distant iron bombs dropped
from B-52s burst out of the dark,

laying a blanket of moans over him
and the street and the girls too young in the night.
He glanced at the stars and felt himself
holding onto his gun with both hands.

(first appeared in Connecticut Review)

More of Greg McBride's poetry.

No comments: