"Three Shots" is a poem that I had wanted to write for quite some time. I wrote it late last year based on an incident in which I was intimately involved. I did not witness parts of the incident and wrote based on others' accounts. However, a friend who witnessed what I did not see confirmed the accuracy of what I wrote. I have placed an image that he gave me in the poem's last line. I wrote "Three Shots" without moral evaluation; it is merely a graphic image of war.
Three Shots—A Narrative
We hear, “Get Down! Choppers say there’s
VC coming our way!” Behind a
rice paddy dike, a hundred meters from a river,
peering over the dike’s top,
two young men in shorts,
stripped to the waist, with
no visible weapons, run out
of the bush into the open.
They’re 85 meters away. As they cross
our field of fire, we open up. In the
barrage, I fire hitting one.
In exhilaration I shout,
“I got the motherfucker!”
As we move forward, the man
raises his hand and
Is he holding a grenade or is he surrendering?
A shot rings out. Pierced
through his eye into his brain,
the young man falls back, still
alive. When he
reaches the man’s position, our captain draws
his pistol and extends it at
arm's length. Standing
over the young man, he kills him with
a shot him through the head as
the young man,
with arms outstretched,
begs for mercy. In a few minutes, after
exploding grenades in the river attempting
to kill the man who escaped,
we gather into squads and platoons.
we continue our mission while a
young man’s brains leak out
onto the earth.