Triage by Richard Levine

Field hospital backed up,
shoulder-to-shoulder stretchers,
near sandbagged surgery, choppers
stutter chaos close.

LZ a literal throw of dust.
Outnumbered doctors, medics, nurses
in scrubs, some in fatigues or civies,
a patina of restless fatigue

clouding their fish-eyed stares,
up and down the rows, fast but slower
than blood flows, triaging for the superficial
shrapnel or flesh wounds

they might tend in place, blood
everywhere it should not be, oozing out
onto stretcher green canvas
turning black, and LZ dust blowing

into eyes and wounds,
open and un-sutured. Then, in lieu
of relief, a surgeon grunts, “O great!
A candidate for mercy killing.”

Under his prescriptive stare, a grunt
blinded by wounds, unconscious,
half his face MIA, a gelatinous mess
trembling in its place.



Richard Levine, a distinguished poet, served with 3rd Tanks,3rd Marines ’67-’68.  Visit Richard’s website to see more of his poetry. Watch Richard sing the blues.