“Look who’s going home.”

It’s the Tet offensive 1968.
We are firing day and night.
All birds are knocked dead
by the artillery concussion.
The jungle is eerily silent.

Jennings is a mess sergeant
always busting our asses.
A chopper brings in the meal
fried chicken, corn on the cob,
mashed potatoes with gravy.

Four guns in our artillery battery.
Two crews eat lunch at a time
with 15 minutes to get back.
There’s an explosion in the Mess Tent.
Jennings runs out on fire.

In an orange sea, he falls and rolls,
screaming louder than human.
The firing guns mute his anguish.
Some of us continue to finish lunch.
Lt. Wesley and others smother the flames.

We run back to Betty, our 175mm cannon.
Jennings gets a definite ticket home.