Houston, Tx, USA
The Vietnam War was a lost, far away place to my childhood in Brownsvile, Texas. At first it was only visible through the sad musings of Walter Cronkites reports of how many men died each day followed by his famous, "That's the way it is. . . ." It was not until a child in my six grade class in 1968 lost his brother did I come to know this as something real. For those in my generation, they all experienced something similar. It wasn't until almost thirty years later I was able to express my thoughts at the time about the incident. I did this in the following poem:
FINDING RUBIN'S BROTHER
I found Rubin's brother on the black wall;
four panels to the left;
twenty names from the concrete:
Rubin's brother drove a red 1963 Impala
black topped convertible;
his hair never misplaced by the wind,
glowing cigarette in his mouth.
He was an American icon,
hard pack rolled in his sleeve,
a James Dean collar,
veins pounding on his tight biceps.
He smirked like Elvis,
and always used the word "cool."
Rubin's brother laughed at his teachers'
lectures on the inscriptions on his book covers
regarding his potential if he finished school,
and the promise of the American Dream.
"Ain't nobody gonna make me president,"
Rubin's brother would sneer in response to their shaking heads.
Rubin's brother got his invitation
from the president,
put on the green clothes and went in country.
One afternoon during art,
while making Christmas wreaths
from newspapers and hangars,
the principal, his blonde arms bristling,
came in with a note and called Rubin out;
go home to momma, he said,
your brother's coming home early;
we grew silent as Rubin read the note
and ran out;
we could see him running down Adams Street
as we twisted the paper on the bent wire.
Rubin's mother sold the Impala for 500 dollars;
the new owner painted it green.
David E. Cowen
All Rights Reserved
They stole our youth to lose this war. Is there anyone left to blame?