Vietnam Memories


Night Invasions

He trembles beside me in his sleep
And I know
he has returned 'there' again.
Nam, the back-alley abortionist
still refusing to let go,
attempting this insidious surgery
Unfazed, after so many years.

Must his soul itself be aborted
before this nightly invasion will end?

He groans, pours sweat.
tramples once more
through jungled chaotic mazes named
Cong, Napalm, and Orange

No wonder the abortion is so complex

"They are tearing me apart," he shouts.
I roll over and hold him.

My love, the only midwife I know.


Nineteen sixty-eight.
Crepe paper flowers surround us,
Navy wives chattering with excitement.
The ship, due any day!
Our job?
The biggest lei Hawaii has seen,
for tug to hoist high to bow
when ship returns to port.

I slip one pale flower onto the link, think,
'just now--this very second--one more has died'.

Finally, the ship steams into Pearl,
clad in our colorful lei.
Sailors in white scattered formations
salute from tiered decks,
navy band blaring 'stars and stripes'.
Will my heart burst apart
as I watch from the dock?

Our men are back!
Oh, they are back.
Safe from the relentless seas
Safe from the killing fields at last.

Later Contradictions

I drive through the Newport base
car bearing husband's sticker
A squadron of fresh-faced teenagers salute
My heart lurches, well knowing
to what hell they are bound.
wondering how many will return.

Up the slick steep Providence hill,
a break from a long day at work,
a long-haired teenager in torn jeans,
spies same proud sticker,
raises the one finger salute,
shoves words I don't want to hear
through my frost-covered windshield.


Nineteen seventy-five
The March Against the War
We huddle in the steep hills around Concord
as Phil Ochs wails songs against the war.
in the darkened valley below.
The war has seeped over into Cambodia
Fat cat politicians
spiel lies they hope we buy.
Now I am the one wearing the torn jeans,
hair past my shoulders
One big difference.
It's the politicians I hate.
Bring our boys home, my chant!

Pris Campbell
Copyright 6/1/2001

Blood on the Wall

That war has visited my thoughts often,
over the years
since our men came home,
saturated in Agent Orange,
blood staining their hands,
hearts, and minds,
to fight yet another war
born from the rage of 
our country turned

I think of the ones who
didn't return.
The boy from history class.
My best friend's brother.
Those two men shrapnelled
on my husband's ship.
My throat closes,
won't let me name
any more.

The Wall.
Littered with names.....
too many names.

Does their blood
weep from it nights,
sink into into the grass?
A chance taken,
to touch home turf
one last time?

Pris Campbell
Copyright 10/9/2001


Music: My Heart Will Go On

Photograph: Soldiers Of The Wall

As a Navy wife during the Vietnam War, I
was profoundly affected. The above poems
are an attempt to share the war from my
perspective. More vets have committed
suicide than were killed in the war. It is our
responsibility to make every effort to ensure
that never happens again.


I treasure this award for my above poem,
'Safe'. This award cannot be applied for, but
is given by the board of the above organization
upon recommendation of one of its board members.
A click on the banner will take you to their site. This 
poem is also linked to the Double Tap Honour Roll.
Thank you, dear vets! The honour is truly yours!

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