VVAW: Vietnam Veterans Against the War
About VVAW
Contact Us
Image Gallery
Upcoming Events
Vet Resources
VVAW Store


Page 25
Download PDF of this full issue: v43n1.pdf (21.1 MB)

<< 24. How to Live with Killing (poem)26. Christmas Bombings 1972 >>

Cheating the Reaper (poem)

By W.D. Ehrhart

[Printer-Friendly Version]

For Kazunori Takenaga
February 5th, 1968 - June 23rd, 2011

This is the building, Ken.
This is the place
where our lives nearly ended.
My fault. I got careless.
That NVA gunner was aiming at me,
but all I got was a hell of a headache,
permanent tinnitus,
and a cheap Purple Heart.
You got a gaping gash in your head
and nearly lost an arm.
Both of us a rice shoot away
from buying the farm.

But here we are in a vibrant city
forty-three years later:
two ex-Marines shaking our heads
in wonder at what we survived
and what we are seeing now:
a five-story four-star hotel,
scooter rental and coffee shop
instead of a house we'd commandeered
for a makeshift battalion CP,
cinder block wall
enclosing a littered yard.

Who would have thought
the day that RPG exploded
we'd live to see this day,
this house, this city, this Vietnam.
Who would have thought
we'd ever want to come back
or be happy because we'd lost.

This is the very building, Ken.
This is where we almost died
for nothing that mattered,
but didn't.

—W.D. Ehrhart

<< 24. How to Live with Killing (poem)26. Christmas Bombings 1972 >>