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A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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Archive: Contents of American Haibun & Haiga Volume 1

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Dennis H. Dutton

The Bottom Line

On Dragon Mountain, we were cut off for weeks. When our food and water ran low, they choppered them in. It took that long to mop up the area and make it safe for truck and jeep traffic.

Dragon Mountain
at night on the bunker
watching stars and tracers

One afternoon, at twilight, I saw just how costly the war was, and why we would eventually lose it. What I saw was one man in black pajamas running on the levee of a rice paddy, so far below that he looked like an ant. He was running hard, and with reason--a Huey helicopter gunship was shooting at him.

Once, he stopped. I think he must have been hit, but he didn't fall. Then he kept going, trying to make a copse of trees. The gunship fired without letup.

He almost made those trees.

Almost.

black pajamas
falling in the paddy
all I can see from here

How much did it cost in dollars to kill that one man? Too much. How much in honor? Too much.

It might have been from this time that I remember this image:

shaving in my helmet
someone else's face
in the mirror

I don't know. I do know that I had changed, thoug not nearly as much as some:

squad leader
in each pocket for luck
a shriveled ear

 


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