Catherine Chandler's Poetry Blog

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Tenth Fold

I will never forget my Uncle Tommy, himself a WWII veteran and POW, being handed this triangle of stars in mid-March 1968. And I will never forget his son, my beloved cousin Tommy Jr., to whom the poem below is dedicated. It is an angry poem as well as a sorrowful one.

       Gia Dinh
          In memory of Thomas F. Smith, Jr.
          (July 13, 1945 - March 3, 1968)

In Washington there’s bugger-all
to lure me down from Montreal.
And yet, when it was done I came
to tell and touch and trace your name,
to taste the wormwood and the gall.

The Tet Offensive saw you fall
near Hoc Mon Bridge. Still maggots crawl
and feast and life is much the same
in Washington.

It’s strange the things I best recall –
you hated Ringo, I loved Paul.
You dreamed you’d pitch the perfect game
like Koufax. What a bloody shame.
I weep beside this granite wall 
in Washington.

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