I thought this was another country,
that's all.
I figured its capital
was that old oak tree
and the economy
was the names scratched into
its rugged gray bark.
I knew nothing of Washington DC
and dollars and cents
and especially not armies.
My battalions were the fir trees
and the white-tailed deer
that emerged from their lush cocoon
at sunset
to feast upon the grasses.
And, worse than that,
they sent me to a jungle
with a rifle,
and the instruction to shoot
whatever shoots at me.
This wasn't even another country.
It was another world.
Back home, when the neighbor's dog bit
I gave it a good kick in the rear.
In Vietnam , for that was this other planet's name,
everything bit
but I did all my kicking late at night
when I was supposed to be sleeping.
And here I am, back in my old stamping ground
but once you know what's out there
then you can't even get away from it.
May as well carve the names of politicians
in the bark of the oak tree,
or the people I knew killed in battle
or the ones I didn't know
who were on the other side.
All I know is my fir tree army
no longer can protect me.
And the deer run off at my approach.
Okay, so they always ran off at my approach.
But now we both know what's coming.