Boot for trade

Vetnam Veterans Memorial

Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.; photo by Don DeBold, via Flickr Creative Commons

Sterling Haynes had a hunch I would appreciate his tanka. (That is a Japanese poem with five lines. The first and third have five syllables. The others have seven.) He was right.

I appreciate because I know he spent ten of his years as a physician in Alabama, taking care of Vietnam vets. He knows what he is writing about.

And I appreciate it because of the young men in my cohort who were drafted or signed on and who came home broken or in body bags. Even those who came home whole were wounded. They had served in an unpopular war. No hero’s welcome awaited their return.

Here is Sterling’s untitled poem:

‘Nam veteran
wishes to trade
a size 10
right black army boot
–never worn
          ~ Sterling Haynes

Versions of this tanka have appeared in Poets Against War and the anthology, “Horses’ Hooves.” For other poems by Sterling Haynes, type his name in the search box. This is his seventh poem on Catching Courage.

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