An Of the Wall Protest By Linda Lerner

(Feb. 2003)

Decades ago, returning vet
you flung your medals at the White House,
I fling words on a page now   another war
you’d be protesting with me
if I wasn’t protesting your death.

Learned in Vietnam
to know the real enemy  the dead:
marching into jungle swamp deserts
reciting  the lord is my shepherd
the dead:  we surrender our souls to every day.

You saw with your own mind
heart’s eye   didn’t need
a politician doctor bossman
telling you how to live
breathe compromise   or  when
death had you in its chokehold…

having known Long Bînh Jail’s torture*
you wouldn’t accept a medicine man’s for
some zero quality time.

Your penis  computer animated
my coffee mornings
those last months…
see how big  alive–
and growing even bigger  and
“wanting is the hottest sweetest thing you know”**
outlasting every kind of war
all the broken promised moments we had
and couldn’t keep….

so when your daughter wrote ,
he passed away
wasn’t you, my love…a dead goodsoldierman  I saw

or ever see…
not you at all

*largest Military Stockade in Vietnam

**”love at first sound” by  Andrew Gettler

This poem was published in my collection A koan For Samsara published by Ibbetson Street Press, 2003 and has references to someone who was in Viet Nam.

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