The Innisfree Poetry Journal
www.innisfreepoetry.org

by Bill Wunder


OFF LIMITS

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.


RIVERSIDE CEMETERY
    --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.



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