By Tom Saal
“Go ahead, shoot him!” And they did.
Bang! Bang! Bang! Three shots rang out,
And two hundred yards across the paddy dikes
the once alive man, slumped, dropped to his knees and feel dead.
“Go get the body,” and three of my men did.
Later, not long but after some time had elapsed
and having awakened from a ‘Nam power nap,
I saw the same man, very dead now, hanging Christ-like,
from a makeshift cross erected from bamboo
found scattered around the ambush site we had established.
“Take him down! Take him the fuck down!”
“C’mon lieutenant! They’d do the same thing to us
if the situation were reversed.”
“I don’t give a good Goddamn fuck! We are not them!”
Later, depressed, angry, isolated and staring blankly
over the brown, dry and desolate rice paddy
where I had ordered the kill,
I watched my soul, a never regained part of me,
fly with wings, not those of an angel,
but as a dark and sad object,
wondering how this could ever have happened.