Tag Archives: vietnam

Summer of Love…

Summer of Love

When I got your letter about the divorce, I’d already lost my legs.

Now, sitting on this hill looking down at The Cliff House, I’m wondering if coming here to see you is a good idea.

I see you stand up tall, out of your station wagon.

The kids scatter all around your legs and you point at the big rocks completely covered in birdshit.

You have on your big Sharon Tate sunglasses that I love so much. Your yellow sundress billows in that the San Francisco breeze.

You look happy, really happy, with your new family.

It’s so ironic that you’ve come all this way, all the way to California, to get away from me. And I was just up the street at the VA Hospital on Clement Street, not five minutes from where you stand right now.

He puts his arm around your waist. You settle against him. It’s like I’m seeing all this from another dimension – somewhere far away.

I’ve actually been to The Cliff House a couple of times. They wheel us down there from the VA and carry us in. You know, just to get away for a few hours.

We get a few stares. Some of the guys just look down, or over at the birdshit rocks. Me, I just stare right back at them. Until they look away. Boo-fucking-rah.

I see you look around, almost as if you can sense me up here, but of course, that’s impossible. Even in this wheel chair, I can still make myself invisible to a target.

The counselor at the VA thinks I’m dinky dau, but she don’t know shit about shit.

It was really no problem to locate you. Why did you run away? I wouldn’t have hurt you or the kids. You have to know that.

If you don’t want me any more, that’s ok. I’m not going to make a Mongolian clusterfuck out of the situation.

But I have to draw the line at another man taking you on. Not to mention the kids.

It was obvious to me during my last R and R that you’d already checked out and poisoned the kids against me.

But to file papers while they were hacking my legs off in a hot LZ in the Central Highlands? That’s just cold, baby.

This midday heat has me sweating. Snakes of sweat crawl down my stomach and wrap around my scrotum.

You said it would be forever.

It seems, wherever I turn now, there’s no fidelity to promise.

With Nixon and Kissinger, it’s all about peace with honor, and fuck winning the war.

With you, it’s all about understanding how we’ve grown apart. What the fuck does that mean?

The hippies at Golden Gate Park spit on me. I can’t chase ‘em ‘cause I got no legs.

But I do have this sweet little .222 with a scope.

I won’t hurt you or the kids.

Just that guy you seem so hot on.

From up here on the hill, it’s an easy kill.

Once he stands up from behind the station wagon, I should have a wide-open head shot.

C’mon, man.  Binky’s back in the world and ready to play.

Just a little higher and I’ll have you.

C’mon, let me light your fire, man.

I can’t walk or fuck. But this? This is second nature.

Just a little higher.

Right there.

That is just….

Perfect.

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Image by Ed Bierman

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Dreamwife…

ballet dancer

Dream Wife

Tran will not let me touch her anymore. Not like a wife should.

And who could blame her? My academic career is of no use to us here. It’s just dirt, smoke, and hunger now. I am no good at chopping wood or creating a shelter from rubbish. It is obvious to me: the men who are in demand now are those who can offer protection from the wind and rain and heat. Men with practical skills. Carpenters. Masons.

Tran is dirty these days, disheveled, but still lovely. And sexy too. Her legs still maintain the strength and shapeliness that got her to the National Ballet.

Each day we spend hours scavenging for food or pieces of trash we hope will be useful.  The Revolutionary Council has forbidden us from working. Our pedigree is too urban, too educated, for inclusion in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

In the evenings we swelter, the sheets so saturated they cling to us like giant leeches. I wake in a panic several times a night, thinking I am being enshrouded and dragged into a fetid swamp.

Sometimes, when I wake from one of these swamp dreams, Tran is not in bed with me. Of course, I’ve had my suspicions that she leaves for someone else’s bed. That would be the final humiliation.

Tonight, I’ve awoken again, my breath stolen by fear. I arch my back and expand my chest to swallow as much air as the humid night permits. I grasp at the sheets on Tran’s side of the bed. She is gone again.

An image of Tran straddling the stonemason down the street enters my mind and will not leave. She still has a ballerina’s body: hard, sinewy. She glistens in the moonlight and smiles down at her lover.  I let out a small groan and cannot decide if it signifies a voyeur’s pleasure or a cuckold’s anguish.

Then, another image fills the screen of my mind. Tran is in the alley behind our shack. She stands on a small packing crate, under an enormous, silver moon. Her arms extend gracefully to the heavens as she slowly spins. Then she leaps from one side of the alley to the other, like a jungle cat.  She floats and swirls. I can see she is crying, her tears turned to tiny drops of mercury by the moonlight.

I cannot turn away from all this beauty. I will not risk losing it.

But then Tran is here, sliding back into bed with me.

“Where have you been?” I ask her.

Her back to me, I can barely make out her muffled reply.

“Out.”


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