So far from the chaos of battle,
The white tombstones stretch;
Far from the tattered and bloody uniforms,
I came home from Vietnam
With a bunch of medals,
But no hero was I.
I quailed at the sight of the first corpse,
With its limbs so flaccid.
Flying a helicopter was my role
And I reveled in the act of flying,
And truth be told,
Enjoyed it when the danger passed.
The tombstones make
A geometric pattern
That changes as you walk by
At different angles.
And thus we order chaos
With these rows,
That in a thousand years will melt to dust.
Hear the bugle playing taps.
The sun sets,
The planets rise,
The warm air of spring greens the spaces
Between the tombs
Where the whine of a caretaker’s weed eater
Is setting things to right.