We prowled that part of the base at midnight,
high on crowbars and beer. We smashed car lights
and ripped the chrome off doors. Nothing beat
being drunk enough to die when bar girls screamed
and rockets fell like stars, one more
Cadillac dismantled upside down. We swore
whoever owned such cars were black-market heads
or Vietcong cousins who wanted us dead,
boys whose war crashed down in darkness, the rage
of VC mortars and rockets fired at the base.
When I was ten, we met each other’s boasts
with knives, how near we could throw at toes
without flinching. One time I pitched too close,
and Joe Bob cursed and hurled the knife at me.
From then on, blades stayed closed and in our jeans.
Talk turned to girls and what to do
if we made somebody bleed. Roaring tunes
with country and western words in Saigon,
trying to ignore all falling fire, we staggered
back to sandbagged bunkers, daring the blare
of sirens to kill us, swearing we didn’t care.