Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Beau Coup Dinky Dau

image from blog.cwam.org

Beau Coup Dinky Dau

“Just don’t say dinky dau if you’ve never felt it, if you never
were in the heat or fear of battle.”--John Shearin.

For too many thousands of us,
      through conscription, stupidity, or misinformation,
             our war was in Viet Nam, where Charlie didn’t surf
                   & they wasn’t any fried chicken in the Delta, swarms
                   of us from the inner city, a few fresh & dumb right off
              the farm, every color, every temperament, the 
        original rainbow coalition combat squads, discovering
that although civil rights was still a cherry boy
in Biloxi & the Bronx, there was
               zip racism out there banded together in squads
                        trudging through the baleful boonies, where we
                               pulled fucking patrol after patrol, learning about
                                       the VC booby traps the hard way, finding our
                                             lost buddies dismembered, & their heads on
                                       a stake, their genitals sewed up into their
                                sad dead mouths, and shit, we got mad,
                           real fucking A dinky--dau crazy, and we
                       found ourselves burning villages, then we
                       slaughtered livestock, burned rice fields &
                       raped girls younger than our sisters, doing
hard drugs for the first time,
drinking beer barely cooled
in vats of jet fuel; we all found ourselves becoming brothers
                       in arms, in madness, & at liberty; reconstituting
                       our psyches, reshaping our morality, growing
                       dark & mean in places we no longer could feel;

only to ride the Freedom Birds back home,
to be greeted by screaming hippies & radicals
who yelled, “Baby-killers, murderers, stupid
brained washed pawns of the military,” and
god damn it, though we kicked their asses,
angry they got to stay here & become oh so
liberal, while we finished our education beneath
jungle canopies, even as we wiped their spittle 
off our old military shirts, most of us knew that
too much of what they yowled was true--and
hordes of us found out how battle fatigue became
PTSD, & we watched some of our buddies lose
their dignity, their jobs, their families, & their minds,
hiding from fireworks celebration, hiding from guilt
& shame & anger & murderous fits of rage;

But hey, boy howdy, most of us soldiered-up, returned to school,
wrestled our own demons, somehow rebuilt our lives--until 9/11,
with the onset of the New Crusades, the rise of radical Islamic
terrorists perpetrating medieval conflicts in the holy land, where
Jesus once wept, watching those wars eclipse & overtake the
sad decade of our involvement in Viet Nam--and now, those of
us who can, who are still here, reach out to the tens of thousands
of broken men & women, more wounded fodder, damaged goods,
spit out & abandoned by the fat cat politicians who control the VA,
& continue to put the cream of our youth in harm’s way. But we
are determined to hold them, hug them, console & consult them,
taking ownership of some of their pain, often amazed how doing
that has peeled the scabs off our own ancient wounds.

Duty calls, and young
men answer, but too often it
will cost their sweet lives.

Glenn Buttkus

Posted Over at dVerse Poets Pub


lillianthehomepoet.wordpress.com said...

Oh Glenn -- absolute sorrow reading this. We are of the Viet Nam era. That mixed up time when as you say, some of us were able to stay home and live liberal while others where in the rice paddies tromping through mud and guts. My very good friend, kicked out of high school because he dared speak up to an obnoxious teacher -- in those days, no one spoke up to teachers -- and he held the longest life span/time of a gunner in the helicopters picking up the wounded in Viet Nam, until he didn't. War is hell. In too many ways.
Quite a sculpture to choose -- powerful words.

De Jackson said...

Oh, Glenn. This was so very difficult to read, so very relevant and real. First off, THANK YOU for your service. I am thankful to live in the land of the free because of the brave - you, and my brother, who is an Army lifer. And thank you for your words. Thanks to those soldiers, we still live in a country where we are free to spill them.

AnotherFearlessYear.net said...

This is powerful -- your imagery is enlightening. My brother fought in Vietnam when I was just a toddler. He doesn't talk about it, but he spends much of his time in the woods (he's a logger now) far from crowds. This gave me an insight into him that I hadn't considered before. Having struggled with my own PTSD from trauma of a different sort, I never thought of him as potentially suffering with it, too. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Extremely powerful, such a tough read. I can't imagine how it must have been to write.

brudberg said...

This is wonderfully stark and sad.. what war does to men, what men does at war, and aftermath of barely surviving... I'm so fortunate never having to change myself thus.

Sanaa Rizvi said...

Gosh! The imagery here is to die for! :D
Beautiful work, Glenn.

Grace said...

I too am moved by your post, and most importantly by the positive attitude and hope of your ending lines. I can't imagine what a challenge it is to live after the war and after death of many brothers and sisters. Enjoyed the read too Glenn ~

Gayle Walters Rose said...

I understand why many soldiers stepped out of the bounds of their "normal" morality and did the things they did. I'm not condoning but I understand. When young men are dropped in the middle of hell what can you expect? Your words took courage to write, I'm imagining...and are so important for healing and compassion for so many who returned home irreparably damaged.

Nan Mykel said...

What a lot of gumption to come out the other end as solid as you obviously are. Greatly moving piece.

Kim M. Russell said...

I can only remember Vietnam from a distance - I was a teenager who had just moved from the UK to Germany when it ended and had no real idea of what was going on - only from film, television, music and literature. The same thing applied to 9/11. It wasn't until we visited New York the following year that the tragedy really hit home. Your powerful poem has brought me closer to your reality. And what an amazing sculpture.

Sumana Roy said...

"guilt / & shame & anger & murderous fits of rage;"...the lines remind me of the war poets of the early twentieth century...but it's hard to realize for the youths brought up in gun culture these days...

Carol Campbell said...

I am speechless. Your truth telling is so deep and raw. Thank you a thousand times!

Kathy Reed said...

Since 'Nam we have been eased into accepting the terrible news of fallen soldiers..ugly, ugly war for no reason other than 'oil' has been the mantra, or to assassinate a crazy leader and then support another worse dictator. I can't write about it like you can from first hand experience, so WOW! This is honest and brutal and true..Happy Birthday!

Walt Wojtanik said...

You've just become my sage and mentor, Glenn! An incredibly outstanding expose of the journey undertaken by so many of you brave souls. I applaud and salute this!

lynn__ said...

A raw write that proves war is hell and veterans should be honored. Our neighbor fought in Nam and he's one of the finest men we are privileged to know.

Mish said...

Sorry for this late response to the prompt.
I appreciate the realities and truths that you have shared in this piece. I can understand how the horrors of war could re-wire the minds of young men, especially when you consider their brains aren't even fully developed until the age of 25. Thank you for the openness and bravery in your writing and most of all, thank you for your service, Glenn.

Katie Mia Frederick said...

Powerful write here noW on the
actual sorrows lived in Vietnam..
Statues of soldiers hated there
and home.. Statues of soldiers
continuing to pay the price of
life for wars started
for reasons
other than
Liberty and
Justice foR All
oh.. the pursuit
of Happiness.. not
a gold held by those
who suffer at the hands
of Power who have no soul..:)

dsnake1 said...

oh WOW!
hearing you read the poem brings it to a new level.
perhaps My Lai is just an atrocity waiting to happen...

robkistner said...

It’s an oldie Glenn., but it still has razor teeth, blistering sizzle, and rib-breaking gut punch brother! Loved hearing you read it.

JadeLi said...

Hearing you read this gave it even more of the intense emotional feelings attached to the words from every direction. I have the utmost respect for all veterans who have been placed into impossible situations and who have had to survive --physically and mental healthwise-- however they can. Those who haven't been there and done it can't possibly understand, but knowing what you have shared today in your poem helps me empathize. It does my heart good to know you are reaching out to soldiers that have been traumatized by more recent wars.

Ingrid said...

For sure, no way you could write about or understand these things unless you'd actually been there. Hell for all those involved. Well and bravely said.