By Atsuro Riley Atsuro Riley

—by way of what they say

From back when it was Nam time I tell you what.

Them days men boys gone dark groves rose like Vietnam bamboo.

Aftergrowth something awful.

Green have mercy souls here seen camouflage everlasting.

Nary a one of the brung-homes brung home whole.

Mongst tar-pines come upon this box-thing worked from scrapwood.

Puts me much myself in mind of a rabbit-crouch.

Is it more a meat-safe.

Set there hid bedded there looking all the world like a coffin.

Somebody cares to tend to it like a spring gets tendered clears the leaves!

Whosoever built it set wire window-screen down the sides.

Long about five foot or thereabouts close kin to a dog-crate.

A human would have to hunch.

Closes over heavy this hingey-type lid on it like a casket.

Swearing to Jesus wadn't it eye-of-pine laid down for the floor.

Remembering the Garner twins Carl and Charlie come home mute.

Cherry-bombs 4th of July them both belly-scuttling under the house.

Their crave of pent-places ditchpipes.

Mongst tar-pines come upon this box-thing worked from scrapwood.

From back when it was Nam time I tell you what.

Source: Poetry (December 2007).


This poem originally appeared in the December 2007 issue of Poetry magazine

December 2007
 Atsuro  Riley


Atsuro Riley grew up in South Carolina lowcountry and lives in San Francisco. His heavily stressed, percussive, consonant-rich, free-verse poems conjure up the elemental images of the lives of people inhabiting a specific, acutely portrayed landscape. His poems are dense with impressions, voices, and glimpses of people who have experienced the Vietnam War, rural life, and the South. Though grounded in a world that seems . . .

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SUBJECT Activities, Jobs & Working, Social Commentaries, War & Conflict, Heroes & Patriotism


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