Bad Morning, Viet-Nam
No music calls a teenager to war;
There is no American Bandstand of death,
No bugles sound a glorious John Wayne charge
For corpses floating down the Vam Co Tay
No rockin’ sounds for all the bodies bagged
No “Gerry Owen” to accompany
Obscene screams in the hot, rain-rotting night.
Bullets do not whiz. Mortars do not crump.
There is no thin rattle of musketry.
The racket and the horror are concussive.
Men – boys, really – do not choose to die,
“Willingly sacrifice their lives,” that lie;
They just writhe in blood, on a gunboat deck
Painted to Navy specifications.