Yusef Komunyakaa’s Book Dien Cai Dau Assumes the Role of Commiserating Old Soldier

I need to talk.

Of course.

Who else will listen?

No one else.

Well, I woke one night to a mortar
whistling low as a strolling beat cop.

this one died looking up at the sky

That one didn’t even see the trip wire.

What made me spot the monarch
writhing on a single thread

I don’t know,
but I sure am glad.

A rocket blew out my window once

Like a benediction of blue


Where you would have been that moment

but I stopped to take a leak.

What did I know about war?

I feel like I’m down there

Why did I talk
to the recruiter like she was a girl lounging
on a beach?

a flash of legs

And I wrenched my shirt off
and sprinted with her

into the whitecaps,


Paul David Adkins lives in New York and works as a counselor.