Poetry — In Memory of the Fallen II

Of Bow Ties and Battlefields

When I was a young lad,
Papa used to say
you can tell a lot about a man
by the way he ties his bow tie.
Front and center was a sign of dignity.
Papa lived his whole life that way,
dignified to the very end.

When the draft came,
I took my dignified bow tie
to the jungles of Vietnam,
but this was no place for dignity.
Only death and the dying consumed me.

I remember hearing Papa say
pick your battles boy
or someone will pick them for you.
How could I tell him that the battles raging here
were not just in a rice paddy,
but charging full speed ahead in my mind?

Broken in mind and body,
shame followed me home.
I couldn’t shake the dead,
nor could I face my Papa.

How can I make you understand?
all that fighting and killing, the senseless killing…
There was nothing dignified about this war.


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