a Happy Heart

You know folks,
I have left Vietnam
but it has never left me.

Imagine boys to men
given guns to kill
just because . . .

I am 21 and want to feel
what it feels like
to feel.
Four guns in our battery.
Two 8 inches and Two 175’s.
Our 175 mm gun is named Betty.

The rounds weigh 47 pounds,
High Explosive is fired most,
then White Phosphorus.

We have a five man crew.
I pull the tail on Betty,
to fire our big gun.

During Tet, we fire day and night.
One crew on. One crew off.
The noise is deafening.

Between fire missions
the jungle is silent.
No bird song.
When I return home,
riding the NYC subway
is relaxing to me, for years.

Train after train after . . .
The rumbling is comforting.
I become a keen people observer.

When living in Sheepshead Bay, Bklyn.,
I shower, put on some nice clothes,
and take the F train to the Village.

I walk into a crowded bar
and order a Heineken,
but turn and leave.

Fear of intimate contact
will keep me secluded
for a very long time.
Change may come with a gunshot
or a trek in the Himalayas.
I have had both.

When looking at my choices,
and who I am here now,
my heart is happy.