Monsanto’s Gift to War by Donal Mahoney

 

Smitty isn’t Schulte.
He doesn’t drive a Cadillac
and doesn’t hit his wife
often any more.
Schulte, on the other hand,
drives a Cadillac
and hits his wife
usually on weekends
for no good reason.
He’s been doing that for
more than 40 years
ever since the boys
came home from Viet Nam

not knowing they had been
touched by Agent Orange,
Monsanto’s gift to war.
They had a double wedding with
girls they liked in high school.
Smitty says therapy
has helped a little.
He hasn’t struck his
second wife in years.
But Schulte hasn’t changed.
The police have come again
tonight, sirens blaring,
gumball lights swirling.

Two big officers,
matched like bookends,
march Schulte out in cuffs.
He’s cursing at his wife
who’s in a nightgown
bawling on the porch
as if Schulte’s going
back to Nam again.
Smitty swears Schulte
never left the paddies, that
he’s still knee-deep in water
bright with Agent Orange,
Monsanto’s gift to war.

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