F. N. Wright, US
first grade after school
he trips her.
she cries out
& he bolts for home
but guilt stops him.
he returns to school
to face his teacher.
"Why did you trip Shirley?"
"I like her," he replies.
The teacher stifles a smile
& says, "That is not
how you show someone
you like them."
he nods his head yes.
the next day
he apologizes to her
but she is unforgiving.
the years go by
& in high school
they begin "going steady."
she has not forgotten the day
he tripped her in first grade
but has forgiven him.
they marry six months after graduation
& he is drafted & sent to Vietnam.
five months later,
Shirley is four months pregnant,
when she receives the telegram
informing her she is also a widow.
The young boy
the dusty eastern Kentucky back road
to the cabin he lived in with his
parents & younger sister.
it was 5 miles from school to home
& his only pair of shoes were tied
together by the shoelaces & slung
around his neck to save their soles.
as he walked up the path to the cabin
he was surprised when his beloved dog
failed to greet him, tail wagging.
"Where's Blue?" he asked as he entered
"I imagine he's around here somewhere,"
his father sullenly mumbled.
he sat down at the kitchen table
his mother's washed out blue eyes
looked sadder than usual
as she placed the food on the table.
it wasn't rabbit stew they'd be
eating for supper tonight.
the pot on the table
his mother ran outside, leaned over
the porch railing & heaved her guts out.
When she reentered the cabin she said,
"Bill, I don't feel good. I'm going to bed."
the young boy & his sister waited for
their dad to dole out portions of the food
into their bowls but instead he said,
"This don't smell right. Probably bad meat.
I'm gonna feed it to the hogs. Danny,
get 2 cans of beans & 3 hotdogs. We''ll
eat store bought food tonight."
After his dad had thrown the stew
to the pigs he sliced up the hotdogs,
put them in a pot with the beans
& placed the pot on the stove.
store bought food! only served
on Sundays after church!
that Christmas Danny received
a new puppy he promptly named
at the age of
the young boy Danny
was at a place called
Khe Sanh, South Vietnam.
As the NVA shelled them
for the third time that day
Danny, Billy & Frank
were in their hooch.
"Shit! Frank bitched,
Ham and motherfuckers
again! Third time in a row."
"Me too, " Billy mumbled,
"makes me hungry for the monkey
on a stick I had in the Philippines
my last liberty on my way to
this fucking hellhole."
"Shit, you dumb fuck," Frank
chortled, "It was probably
Danny began throwing up
when he remembered the night
his mom had ran outside
& began heaving after
fixing supper. a stew his dad
had fed to the hogs.
He wondered how New Blue
was doing, praying his younger
sister was taking good care of
him, as she had promised to do.