One March afternoon in 1969 I was on the deck of a Chinese junk listening to the water clop against the wooden hull and enjoying a breeze that blew toward the South China Sea. The junk bobbed ... [+]
Shimmer in the parachute flares
The day's dust and exhaust glowing green
In the light of descending torches.
I have heard the wooden whooping
Of the gunship's prop as it circles Districts 7 and 8,
Pouring down fire, every fourth round a tracer,
A blazing stream arching onto its target.
Then, emptied, it flies away, leaving the night in silence,
Save for the rustle of bamboo leaves.
I have watched as the flares rock gently to their firefly deaths,
Returning the night to blackness.
Darkness – soft as felt cloth, brittle as smoked glass.
Shattered by a single rifle shot – crisp as billiard balls striking.