Flashbacks never stop—
A letter from my draft board.
they have a quota to meet.
Mother weeping in the doorway—
I leave for Whitehall Street.
Lying in bloodstained mud,
I’ve lost control
of bladder and bowels.
I remember thinking I once read
the Inuit don’t relieve themselves
to keep warm during winter storms.
The coldest winter of 1950
at the Yalu River—
a casualty of friendly fire
in The Land of Morning Calm.
A Howitzer artillery shell
blew out my ears and rattled my brain.
The unthinkable was real.
We were overrun by a marauding
mass of Chinese who were ordered
to overtake us,
no matter their loss.
The piercing sound of their bugles
still rings.
Now I wear my dog tags 24/7
and sleep with one eye open—
razor-sharp bayonet under my pillow.
My mind wanders
like a punch-drunk prizefighter.