Sunday, April 27, 2008

On Point

The protagonist in the following poem walked point on many night patrols during the last months of his tour in Vietnam. The point position is the lead and most dangerous position in a patrol. In the midst of the danger that war presented and in the midst of the devastating psychological and emotional consequences of war this young man found meaning.

On Point

He walks
Out of a village gate at night
Past the bunkers, looks
Out on the narrow road
And sees the possibility
Of death. And he doesn't care.
For the past months he hasn't
Slept much and he scarcely feels.
He's getting short, but there’s little
At home. He's got few illusions.
“The world”: It’s hard,
There’s little compassion,
And they won’t understand. No,
Life is here. On point he can feel.
Fear and the threat of death
Exhilarate him. He’s been
Scarred and scared and numb
For months. But on point
He can really feel.
There’s people behind him
Who depend on him
And he’s good and he cares,
Though, he doesn’t know
Them well. He guesses it’s
Love and walks
Out on that narrow road and
He’s alive
For one more night.

Robert Jost

Credit: First Published in Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace, edited by Maxine Hong Kingston, Koa Books, Kihei, Hawai'i

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