Vietnam Epic Treatment
It doesn't matter A damn what's playing— In the dead of winter You go, days of 1978 - 79, and we went Because the soldiers were beautiful And doomed as Asian jungles Kept afire Christ-like In the hopeless war I did not go to in the end Because it ended. The 20th-century? It was a war Between peasants on the one side, Hallucinations on the other. A peasant is a fire that burns But is not consumed. His movie never ends. It will be beautiful Every winter of our lives, my love, As Christ crushes fire into his wounds And the wounds are a jungle. Equally, no matter when their movies end, Hallucinations destroy the destroyers. That's all. There has never been a President of the United States. And the 21st-century? Hallucination vs. hallucination In cold battle, in dubious battle, No battle at all because the peasants Have gone away far Into the lost traveler's dream, Into a passage from Homer, A woodcutter's hillside Peacetime superstition movie. On a cold night, Hector. On a cold night, Achilles. Around the savage and the maniac The woodcutter draws a ring of fire. It burns all winter long. He never tires of it And for good reason: Every face of the flames is doomed and beautiful; Every spark that shoots out into the freezing air Is God's truth Given us all over again In the bitter weather of men's Hallucinations. There has never been A President of the United States. There has never been a just war. There has never been any life Beyond this circle of firelight Until now if now is no dream but an Asia.
From Pennyweight Windows: New & Selected Poems, Alice James Books, 2005. Used with permission.