Hungry Ghost

Only once did he describe ‘Nam, how Hueys
hovered, how the rotor’s smack-smack-smack
slashed the sun’s waves as he hacked,
body bag in hand, through elephant grass.
He refused to fight, so this became his task:
piece together what was scattered.

~  ~  ~

Dusk, a cloudburst, then calm. I’m alone.
In his jungle jacket, the jungle in his eyes—hungry
he hovers under the porch lamp’s dim, refuses
to come in. He needs money for a train to
“meet some buddies.” There are thick sticky gaps
between his words, but I dig through Mother’s purse
and hand him a twenty. On the right corner
of our television screen, body counts climb.
I can’t speak. I’ve only been taught
to duck, cover.

~  ~  ~

Death by drowning the coroner’s report claimed.
But that night, the tracks he laid
were in his veins. We don’t talk about Duvy.
Father often says he’s MIA. And me?
Like a hungry ghost, I feed
on the unspoken.

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  1. I’m reading this shortly after Veterans Day. Amazing. And I wonder how many veterans end up like this?

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