The Belles of Picardy


The Belles of Picardy


the Vietnam War
I became a conscientious objector

I looked with horror at photographs
of overcrowded cemeteries
no room left to bury the dead
white crosses lined up
shoulder to shoulder
on the graded hills
and green lawns
of Arlington
like soldiers
marching to their death

I remember the portrait of my father
in uniform—it brought to mind
that he, indeed
was one of the lucky ones
who made it back in one piece
from the Pacific Theater; World War II

in my head I heard tolling
bells; hammering to the beat of foot brigades
anthems to the dead and to my brother;
who was yet to die the slow death
of Vietnam’s lingering poison

I called it
The Belles of Picardy
an imaginary war march sung
by the muse that beckons soldiers
from cathedral bell towers and flag ceremonies
rallies; and public squares in every corner of the world
pointing them in the direction of the fields
of Flanders
Da Nang


for years I watched the dismal gray theater of Eastern Europe
never thinking what they filmed could one day come true


On the Road to Satori – Haight-Ashbury

circles by orzz


” Joaquín doesn’t live here anymore. . .


he died of the Vietnam War
—from drugs and alcohol.”

—it’s what I tell whoever asks
about my brother these days


I remember Joaquín
he’d fill my head with stories
about his time stationed at Treasure Island
on leave while in the US Marines
after his tour in ‘Nam

the summer of ’67, San Francisco
the long-legged blonde hippies on Haight sitting
on the sidewalk with blue eyes staring,
spaced out…sit down I
think I love you

Eric Burton
at the Fillmore—before
there was an East and a West—
singing blindfolded, stoned
smoking a cigarette
tempting the edge
of the stage
—tuned in
turned on
and dropped out
from the British Invasion

the yellow corn-cob pipe
and the nickel bag of Vietnamese
smuggled on the plane. I closed my eyes to
Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream, my thoughts a stream
of moving pictures, eyes closed
in an instant, opened
to a new sense
of time and

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