haibun
A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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Archive: American Haibun & Haiga Volume 3

[Return to Author List, Vol 3 ]

w.f. owen

ring

Walking guard duty around a Quonset hut of ammunition on the Marine Corps Air Station, Oahu, my high school ring tapping the barrel of a loaded M-14 rifle. Possible racial and anti-war riots threaten the base. Tropical stars trigger memories . . . The Major in boot camp warned me that this ring would snag and pull my finger off when jumping from a helicopter in Vietnam. Instead of going to West Pac, I got stuck driving a "six-by" truck in California until boredom spurred a transfer request, which could have led to the Tet Offensive, not here to paradise . . . First week on the "Rock": this sunburn from bodysurfing, tasting poi (the glue-like brown paste made from taro), hearing stories on the base from Marines and on liberty in Waikiki from soldiers and sailors on R & R, about rumors of Russian tanks crossing the DMZ, moments of unspeakable terror beside hours of boredom. Alcohol-induced loose tongues, like the kid in the bar so juiced he removes the prosthetic mask covering what was left of his face from falling on a grenade. He sticks the plastic facade on someone's arm and watches them flick it off like some dead alien in a sci-fi film . . . a faint steel guitar playing Hawaiian music wafts through swaying palms just ahead of the approaching change of guard. “Halt, who goes there?”

About a year later, while SCUBA diving off the base, near an old firing range, I lost my senior ring.

combing
the military beach
a crab with one claw

[Return to Author List, Vol 3 ]

 


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