War Dreams

War Dreams prose poem

She builds booby traps from paper clips
And ration cans while her GI lover
Blows smoke rings
But around here a confession constitutes
A conviction even if your mouth is full of gold
And yet she admits to nothing
But her undying love for Uncle Ho

I dream about this girl in black fatigues
And tire-tread sandals constructing death
From heaps of trash
Her hair in one long braid of rope
A sheen of sweat at the nape of her neck

She cleans her rifle running the rod through the bore
Squatting in a green banana shade
While silhouettes with conical hats
Pop up around me testing my mettle
Provoking me to envy

On a hill far away in Nha Trang
Sits cross-legged Buddha smiling
His eyes half closed
His mind in far-off Nirvanaland
As all the while the enemy slips quietly into mine
Crawling through a dreamy field of grass
Where the wind whispers its lies in my ear
The smell of rain on its breath
A conspiracy of frogs and crickets
Luring me to complacency

Drawing smoke through my ivory tusk, I watch her
Oiling her rifle, working the slide
Loading her clips with fresh rounds
But I want to float with her on swirly clouds
Smiling and serene like a Buddha
While cherub monkeys drunk on wine
Sing dark songs of love high up in the jungle canopy

The sun expires in a pool of blood
Shadows creep, slipping over roots
Sliding through the mud and jungle-rot
As bombers rise up from Danang
Thundering eight miles high above Haiphong
Laying their long white contrails
Across the icy heavens

She wipes her weapon down
Locks and loads, straps on her gear
Then moves like darkness itself
Through leafy shades and tangles
Disappearing in a cloak of mist
Sowing her flesh-eating seeds
Along the winding trail

Artillery rumbles through the valley
The first stars appear
A crystal river tumbles
Through a garden of pleasure
Of twisting vines and sudden death

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Bill Peeler

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My wife, Noy and I are Protestant missionaries in Cambodia. We met in a border refugee camp in Thailand back in 1979 while I was a refugee relief worker. She was a refugee. I lived and worked in Mairut Refugee Camp for three years. We have three grown kids. I was drafted into the Army in 1969, served in Vietnam from 1970 to 1971 and honorably discharged at the end of my military obligation. Writing prose and poetry is how I document the life I'm living and how I map out the mental landscape inside my head.
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Loved reading your poem…Keep writing!


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