Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Mr. Fred's Poetry Corner: 1968, Part One

This poem is so long, 1,300 words, that I'll break it up into smaller doses. I couldn't help it, lots of stuff happened that year.


The year got off to a shaky start for me,
I was in Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego,
The Navy was deciding if I was worth keeping,
I had three years to go, I was not indifferent
To the outcome of their process.
They gave me an Honorable Discharge,
Administrative Separation, very easy,
I went home, not too humiliated,
Mostly happy not to be on gunboats in the Delta,
Or juggling napalm bombs on a carrier in a storm.

I was off the war news by then,
So I missed a lot of the details
Of the Tet Offensive, as it was happening,
Proving my point, as it turned out,
That there was more to war than winning and losing,
And sometimes, like this time,
Not-Losing will trump Winning.
I had no credentials, though,
I was in no way academic,
Explaining this to Naval officers,
I had only the arrogance of youth,
And a vulgar manner and accent,
But I was right, after all.
They looked on me as a cancer, and cut me out.

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