Saturday, September 04, 2004


Viet Nam Again!

Three years ago when I wrote this poem, I thought the controversy was settled. The emotions seem just as hot today as then:

My Father, His Son

In a railroad station in Idaho, my father was raised
by a railroad man. There wasn’t much money
and what there was went a long way. A quarter
would buy a bucket of milk, a loaf of bread and a penny
candy. Dad taught me the Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd Psalm
seated by my bed at night. He believed by the Grace of God
and inner strength anything could be done. I lived for his
approval. I watched for some sign that he loved me.

I have read newspapers since I was a child. The Oregon Journal
arrived each morning on a red, white and blue Schwinn
bicycle with balloon tires. The news was served up as if by a
slow waiter. My father and I would sit at the frosted green
Formica kitchen counter and argue for hours about the news
that stayed for weeks as headlines. We fought over Vietnam.
I screamed that it was a civil war. He, in patriotic fervor,
said we were there to save the people. He called me a God Damned

Communist, me, who voted for Barry Goldwater. In 1969 I became
a stockbroker, a proud profession, upon graduation. The years moved
at snail pace. The Bear Market shaved stock prices slowly, like a pencil
erasing eighths and quarters for months. President Nixon took a year
to resign. Each day new headlines about his conduct competed with my family
for attention. Those years were a time for small dreams, four door
sedans and marriage forever to the same girl. I served honorably in the Army
Reserves and never had to choose between my country and Canada.

I’ll be fifty seven next January. That 24 year old in the mirror just
escapes my eyes. I was married for the third time eight years ago. I still
read the news now delivered by a man in a squat-tired car. The stories
seem disposable, not worth an effort, like that trout that just noses
the fly on a hot summer day. With pictures of grief before that black wall
when I close my eyes, I am disillusioned and angry. Vietnam
could have been won, but for the politicians and today, Max De Sully
would be alive, instead shot by a sniper weeks after his Honeymoon.

Dad now thinks we had no business being over there. It was a quagmire.
Our government was wrong, warring when we had no national interests
to defend. I am sick of the massive encroachment of the government
into our lives. Dad now fears for his Medicare and Social Security.
He votes for all the liberals. My father and I have a skittishness about us.
My Father is now the Communist.

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