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February 19, 2024


By Julian O. Long


Something grunted
in the field towards Lillington,
waking, you learned it was feral hogs;
but then, with your butt on the ground
arms and hands inside the VW engine
compartment changing a fan belt
and oh yeah your head as you jerked
and the lid of it cold-cocked you.

Later, you thought of the bug
zapper you passed each night
on your way home, triggered
into lightning by passing insects,
thought how the sound of it
split the air, wondered if
that sound was the last thought
of the electrocuted.

Back in the office you shared
at Fort Bragg, in your sleeping bag
on the floor you said an Our Father
for the young soldier who picked you up.
He had volunteered three tours in Viet Nam,
wanted to go back. Did he want to try again
to get it right, was he hooked on
the whole violence of it -- violence
you couldn't imagine?

Or was he playing a grisly game,
Russian roulette writ large on the napalmed
jungles of his memory and their little people,
couldn't get the mangled bodies
out of his dreams, dreamed his own
mangled body lay on that roadside,
legs splayed out under the rear end
of that damn Karmann Ghia.

Article © Julian O. Long. All rights reserved.
Published on 2021-08-16
Image(s) are public domain.
1 Reader Comments
A. W. Meyer
05:34:15 PM
Memorable mix of the ordinary and the profound, with a touch of dark nostalgia. From Lillington hogs to Hanoi horrors, and back, from the seat of a Karmann Ghia. Spot on, Julian.
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