Dead Weight

Dead Weight prose poem

Uploaded by Bill Peeler

Before we knew it we were on another planet
Twelve thousand light years from home
Where the hours spun backwards subtracting days
Then weeks, then whole months from our lives
We stuffed what was left into our rucksacks
And with the dead weight of time on our backs
Dragging us down in the miry grip of a gravity
Stronger than our legs could endure, we cussed
And ached, reeking of grime and days-old sweat
A monstrous sun tracked us by day leaching
The marrow from our bones then dropped
Out of sight like a stone without warning
At night a pale moon crept through the trees
Feeling its way into our heads, infecting
Our minds, touching our faces with yellowed fingers
They told us our rifles would be our best friend
So I loved mine more than life, whispered her name
In the darkest corner of the night I could find
On my turn to watch she nestled in my arms
Her body tense and rigid to the touch while my comrades
Slept in fits and starts moaning on the bare damp dirt
Of a Chinese cemetery somewhere on a plain in Phu Bai
We lay there all night, hidden at the edge of a tree line
I swear those gravestones shifted in the moonlight
And the souls of the damned came out hanging in the air
Like rags of mist chanting curses in an unknown tongue

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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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