June 27, 1970

We drove a 68 Buick Skylark
until its wheels no longer turned;
through the gravel of early morning,
we clenched Wolf Brothers rum-soaked
twists in our teeth, smoke curling
around our heads one last time.
We waited for the end of the inevitable,
the final ride of our youth.
Our eyes misted red by morning light,
the image of our young locks lying
in a collective pile, paths leading far
from the cornrows and hayfields
we’d worked. Distant jungle screams
to wake us into prayers to a god
we hoped would keep us alive,
past Camp Carroll to Phu Bai
to Dong Ha into Co Bu Than Tan,
never to return to the gentle buzz
of telephone wires, the summer quiet
that morning in our youth.