Tuesday, April 8, 2008


The incident that this poem describes I believe happened a few weeks after the first and largest battle our battalion experienced. We had lost many men. For me, war was a complex experience.


Each end of our quarter
Circle perimeter touched
The banks of two streams
Slightly above where their
Waters’ converged.
Orders were to kill
Whoever moved inside.

The sun set.
Hours later, when the
Celestial lights
Shown through the
Tenebrous clouds,
There came the sound
Of movement. From the
Brush at water’s edge,
At the point of the streams’
Meeting, he emerged.
After a few seconds,
it became clear that
he carried no weapon.

Holding a farming tool or
The navigating pole of his boat
He walked toward
My position—toward me.
“Should I fire?”
“Is he VC or a farmer with a
Family—or both—caught
Out after curfew?”

He kept striding while
I sat with my
M-16. As he walked
By we shared an un-
Comfortable look. Then
I peered as his figure
Faded into the night
And into my memory.

Robert Jost

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