220 more days.
Remembering war, and women and drunken brawls,
As with drunken anger I smash the table top.
"When do you end a day?” I say.

“At sunset… at midnight…at dawn.” Come the answers.
No real discussion as the mood turned to silence,
Only to be broken by someone at the door,
“D-Troop, saddle up!”
“The spirit of the cavalry.” I thought.
220 more days.

“The worst thought of being drunk is that of being sober,”
Someone said as we loaded into the slick.
Twenty-five minutes in the air, then all night in the dirt.
“It’s always the same.” I thought.
220 more days.

Chilled by the wind in the slicks,
As the heat on the ground is scarcely bearable.
Another mundane task.

Move out and stop,
Move out and stop,
Until the repetition evolves into dusk.
Set up and go sit in your own personal hole,
Draw branches over your head
and wait
in silence.
It’s dark now
and you wait.
Let the ratios take over,
Everything, even your worth
is in the count.
and you wait in silence.
Damn mosquitoes.
220 more days.

You live through the days with inert insomnia,
Unconsciously you know better than to sleep.
Three, four days and more if you have to.
Even at night you sweat.
220 more days.

You hear nothing, but human movement.
It’s a natural thing after a while.
Wait and listen,
Wait and listen as the night grows deeper into darkness.

Hours pass - until - listen,
You can count the passing silhouettes,
One – two – three,
There’s one dude combing his hair,
Eleven – twelve – thirteen,
they’re there.
Someone’s gonna die
With only 220 more days.

Along the path they move,
Like a low fog in the trees.

Then a deadening orange flash rips though the night.
Like a deafening silent dream
And nature and man is thrown through the darkness
And into your face.
Still they’re there.
Not the same though.
They’re dropping,
confused and shattered
they’re running,
but they don’t know where.
Like ants on a small limb,
How, when you spray them with insecticide
They twist and jerk and finally drop.

It’s silent again,
But an inhuman knowing silence.
Everyone knows what’s gonna happen,
Them – us – me.
220 fun filled days.

They come,
Running, they charge like a thin, pathetic wave.
and you sit
and you fire
and fire
and fire
and you know your killing
and you fire.
And Kramer,
Medic, Kramer.
Kramer’s dead.
He’s dead and I know him.
and they’re coming
and you fire
and you scream
Damn you LBJ
You killed him
and you fire.
and they die
and they come
and Carrol’s jumps up
and Topolewski’s up
and I’m up
and there is no more they’re coming
they're here.
And you fire at the living
and you bayonet the dead
and shoot and stab the half dead,
for they must know vengeance.
and they are gone.

You fall back in your hole,
and midnight seems like noon.
You smoke a cigarette,
almost laughingly,
Because you know it doesn’t matter any more.

Wait, you can even sleep now,
In shifts.
Hours till dawn.

The night turns to grey.
The stench of powder and blood
and steel permeates the stillness of the rising sun.

219 more days.


Terry Swanger