Bill Wunder


I want to go back again.
Tell Newman to give up

the whores, stay out
of Phu Cat Village.

Resist the allure
in three dollar vials

of heroin, pure
as first light.

Don't give in
to need, but

it was just too much
for him to deny.

We all knew the village
was off limits,

so it didn't surprise me
to see him that day

in handcuffs, in tears,
ashamed, relieved.

I heard he did six months
hard labor in Long Binh.

Heard he hanged himself
when he got back home.

I want to go back again,
tell him not to.

    --Memorial Day 2005

Rows of white stone crosses form diagonals.
They diminish into the distance;
a geometry of death.

Thousands of markers:
crucifixes, crescents, Stars Of David.
Each more than dates and ranks.

Pvt. Manuel Sanchez from the Bronx
had no draft deferment, a booby-trap got him
outside Chu Lai in 1968.

The folded flag they gave his mom is all that's left
of Manny now. She keeps it in the shrine
she made of his bedroom.

Lt. Patrick Miller's young wife gave birth
to their son Steven the same day
a Chinese grenade blew off his face

on a frozen hill in Korea, 1952.
His wife killed herself on their anniversary
when Steven was six.

I read inscriptions till I find yours
on a rise under the reaching branches of an old Maple.
You would have approved of the location.

I sit on the manicured grass, apologize
for not coming sooner, I've never been
quite sure what to say to you.

We argued at the baseball field
that last time together
so I wanted words to be just

as precise, as perfect as this lawn.
But now in this place so silent it makes speech
impossible, my fingers mutely trace your name.

Bill Wunder

In 2004 Bill Wunder was named Poet Laureate of Bucks County, Pennsylvania. A Pushcart Prize nominee in poetry, he has been a finalist in The Mad Poet's Society Competition, The Robert Fraser Poetry Competition and The Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards two times. Recently, his work has appeared in The Manhattan Review, The Paterson Literary Review, Snow Monkey, Mad Poet’s Review, Literary Potpourri, Drexel University On-Line Journal, The Schuylkill Valley Journal, the Bucks County Writer and others. He has read or lectured in many venues, including local schools, James A. Michener Museum, Bucks County Community College, and The Poetry Project at The Montgomery Theater. Via Dolorosa Press published Bill's chapbook titled A Season of Storms. Current projects include a poetry manuscript titled Pointing at the Moon, concerning what the Vietnamese call the "American War."




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