Doing Time by Pris Campbell

Midnight. The whomp of a police ‘copter.
I drift up from a dream, sink back,
ask the Dream Man if there’s a support group
for Vietnam wives, marriages dead,
not their husbands.

But you appear, wearing dress whites
from our Pearl Harbor wedding,
wife in red satin on your arm.
I forget the Dream Man, slink away,
Birkenstocks slapping the pavement
in my haste.

I thought you were lucky in your
supply ship assignment.
No jungle
No upriver
No Napalm
Shelled once, your letter screamed
‘They were trying to kill me. They were
trying to kill me!’

I never saw the war in your edginess after
or in the wall you erected between us.

I was too young then to know that it takes
only one knife at the throat, one car wreck,
one rape to change a life and that the wall
you built was your prison, not mine.


23 Responses to “Doing Time by Pris Campbell”

  1. thanks Pris for another vietnam poem–like i said there can never be too many

  2. Scot, I appreciate your putting this up. Thank YOU. And no, there can never be too many, can there?

  3. Jim Valvis Says:

    Powerful poem, Pris.

  4. good poem, Pris.

  5. Always love reading your work Miss Pris! Another keeper.

  6. after all of this time, we’re still stuck in faraway places with different names, on eternal patrol, searching for the blood-spattered key to the hearts & minds of the people…

    Thanks for this Pris

  7. Thank you all for commenting. db, we never do quite get away from that war, or others, do we?

  8. power packed, with napalm at the end

  9. fine poem, Pris …

  10. David Smith Says:

    Solid poem by a solid poet.

  11. Nan Talbot Says:

    Yes, powerful indeed, Pris. Thanks for another great poem!

  12. I so appreciate all of the comments.


  13. Powerful piece, Pris. Sounds like you’re writing about my father, except he owned those walls even before ‘Nam. That just made them thicker and more fraught with booby traps. I like the comparison with other pts-causes as well. Good to hear from DB on this — the voice of experience

  14. Scott, to have the walls first and then go through war could make them almost impenetrable. I’m haiku friends now with a woman who was from South Vietnam and there, still, during the war. She was especially affected by the Tet Offensive. She said it was so traumatic that it’s been all of these years before she’s able to start writing about it.

  15. Geoff Sanderson Says:

    Another brilliant poem Pris – your choice of words and spareness of language sets the scene without histrionics – all the more telling for that.

  16. Patricia Ricci Says:

    I could tell this comes from your heart, Pris. Another fine poem.

  17. Thanks, Geoff and Pat.

  18. Prissy – This is a good one.

  19. I love dead-on insight. Insight that carries
    forgiveness even moreso. Gives me something to
    try to live up to. Yes…strange how sometimes the cracks
    from a singular trauma never stop spreading.

  20. Anna G. Raman Says:

    Your poem captures it all. Thanks for sharing this work, Pris.

  21. Jim….yes, those spreading cracks.

    Anna, thank you.

  22. very moving, poignant poem. went straight to my heart. best, winnie

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