Forty-Five Days

Toss me a grenade, he shouts
So I do that, he pulls the pin
Ping, he counts three throws the thing
BOOM they must be dead
But now the dread snap
Their Chicom makes
When they pull the string to activate
The chemical fuse in the wood handle
That flies from the wood line
Falls short, twists the machine gun
Wilson, Dorio, Roy, Beck raise up
Wilson yells “Look to the left
They’ll try to outflank us.”
So I do that, the grunts shoot back
Then snap BANG dirt and dust
Everyone hit…
After the medevacs lift them away
After we recon for blood trails
And meat we leave this place
Patrols ambush jungle monsoon
Not how we wanted
Not how we dreamed
No popped smoke in the open field
For birds inbound to lift us out
No cooling air till the birds touch down
None of that.
All day we trudge the dark wet trails
Slip and climb the muddy hills
Wade the dark and narrow streams
Steps so weary, with one last heave
We drop our rucks into the killing heat
And curse you love you


Marc Levy

First published in Chiron Review, Issue#109, Fall 2017

photo: Delta 1/7 First Cavalry third platoon members (left to right) front row-Shake ‘n Bake, Gary Williams, Jim Lamb, Steve Melhop. Back row-Mike Derrig, Ray Williams, Knuckles, John Roop, Joe Dorio. LZ Compton, An Loc, 1969. Author’s collection.