Seen the Movie

16-4-1-front-cover-1a-232x3001When I was eight or nine
I asked my father if he’d killed anyone.
He shook his head.

“We didn’t see much action,” he said
as if Vietnam were just a long walk
in the jungle.

I pictured men in camouflage playing poker
and flipping through girlie mags,
waiting for the enemy.

Did you ever get shot?

Dad thought a minute.
“There was one time.
I was pinned against a tree.
There was a guy shooting at me
and I couldn’t go anywhere.”

My father, who had volunteered
and become a platoon captain at 24,
had five or six stories like that.

So what happened? I asked.
“He ran out of bullets.”

On Saturday nights, he watched war movies on TV,
the bottles from a six-pack
stacking up in the sink.

He dozed in the recliner,
glassy-eyed and listless.
We crawled over him as the credits rolled.

Is that what it was like, Dad?
“Not really,” he said.

Published in the Fall 2016 issue of Gyroscope Review:


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