A web site that shares the emotional and spiritual experiences of the Vietnam War through poetry, stories, and photos by combat veterans.

Hosted by Vietnam Veteran Bill McDonald

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ON THE FLIGHT TO SOUTH VIETNAM

A young poet

goes to war

laughing at the uniform

he now wears,

and

cries

because

he must.

Not totally aware

of why,

He goes

because

it is his duty

and

tries to understand

and

cries

because

he cannot!

#
October, 1966

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ON LEAVE BEFORE GOING TO WAR

Standing alone with others

on Telegraph Hill

I searched the incoming fog

for answers.

I could find none.

The lights of the city below

burned through the darkness.

I could hear the mute sounds

of people around me.

Some may have been lovers,

Perhaps, having to say good-bye.

Others may have been voices

of angels chanting prayers for peace

in the foggy mist.

I saw myself

like that lonely fog,

That hugs the city for it’s very life,

hoping that some

future wind doesn’t blow it away

before it can fully taste life.

This is my city.

My home.

My place of birth.

This is where I began my journey.

This is where I will begin a new one.

I have felt this city breathe

and I’ve known her cries

as she bid farewell to countless

departing war ships,

each filled with young virgin warriors

venturing off to some distant war-stained shore

to meet themselves and their fate

on some battleground graveyard.

I love this damned city

filled with so many lost souls, suicides, broken dreams,

and lonely poets

who hate to say good-bye.

#
October, 1966 - San Francisco, California

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I AM OFF TO WAR, MY GENTLE CAROL

Gentle Carol.

Your soft voice

still murmurs within my memories.

Your image

hangs onto the very corners

of this young warriors heart.

I can feel traces of my heart

leaving wet rivers

down my manly cheeks.

Gentle Carol,

must I go?

Must I be taken away

like a fallen leaf

in the cold fall wind?

How far

is a long time?

How many moments

must pass?

Will tomorrow still

be waiting for us?

Gentle Carol,

How many leaves must fall?

How many cold winds

will chill the air?

Will you still be there

and

will I still be

your young warrior poet?

#
October, 1966 - San Francisco, California

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I WANTED THE WORLD

I wanted to travel

When I was just a child.

I wanted to reach out

Across seas, skies, green valleys,

Climb tall mountains,

Walk crowded city streets

filled with beautiful young maidens

Who lived only on poetry and oranges.

I wanted to touch

Souls of people

Who were not like me.

I wanted to see and be in places

That were foreign to my young being.

I wanted to live in places

That I only saw and felt in dreamland.

I wanted to taste foods and life

As it was experienced someplace else.

I wanted to hold

Snowflakes from Himalayan mountain tops

On my tongue

And dance naked across virgin beaches

on some uncharted island.

I wanted the world

When I was just a child.

I wanted to find

Some enlightened poet

Who could show me

How to find the rainbows end.

I wanted to understand why, and how,

And find that truth

That laid hidden

Under layers of forgotten karma

And other lost dreams.

I wanted so much

When I was just a child.

I wanted the world

Back then,

But now,

All I want is you

And me!

#
October, 1966 - Berkeley, California

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SECRET SUN

Secret sun

Flashing innocent smiles

Across your bare skin

And veiled eyes

I whisper

In the darkness

And stare quietly

At your modest

Warm body

Touching mine

Tomorrow we’ll go

To the beach

And run naked

Across the sand

While the sea

Stares quietly

At your modest

Warm body

Touching mine.

#
Originally written 1966 – revised July, 1998

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 LONELY IS A RESERVOIR

Lonely is a reservoir

Of bad times

And people

I’ve cried sometimes

Watching the dawn

Break across

Future graveyards

It’s funny how thoughts

Seem so loud.

Pounding away at our insides

With memories beyond

Obituary-dreams

And suicide –smiles

I look around me,

at all the young faces,

with thousand year old eyes,

Reflecting only the mute

Sadness of the morning light.

And we stand there

Waiting

For the battles to begin,

Not knowing

Or being able

To taste tomorrow’s joys.

#
December, 1966 - Somewhere in War Zone D - South Vietnam

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