My Lai

I was not there, when it happened.

I avoided the draft, without prick or undue stain, by virtue
of my age, by grace of my superior birthplace.

I expected it to happen, sooner or later, that

(Tet Paris in the Prague in the rifleshot bodybag SCREAM SCREAM
kneel for the pistolshot black and white teargas napalm captured frozen
on filmshot not again oh not again that) year.

I was a smug, I was an ignorant little shit
but I was rarely wrong.

I disrupted family mealtime with my arguments,
with my opinions and my venom and my shouting. All that

(cut my rusty knifeblade deep deep into marble pinkmeat scarred
with stitches) year

my guts
my breathing
my eyes
(magnesium flare)
my alien voice.

I called William Calley a piece of shit

which he was but
I meant because he was a soldier.

Five hundred people were murdered and my voice
was hoarse from the screaming, the tarring and the smug, unmanly,
self-righteous, righteous adolescent tears.

Perfectly good (there are children)
food, left for the flies.
I was struck by a soldier who made his fists
into fists. He was not an evil man.

JDP 98/03/16

Copyright John D Porter © 1998

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