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Oswald LeWinter - Breakfast In Hell

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The yolks are jungle green or bloody,
depending on which blasted tree you squat against
to try and hoist the greasy, lukewarm chow
in your tin canteen cup to your leathery mouth.
A colony of spores thrives on humidified bread
and fried insects pepper blackened bacon.

Breakfast in hell, three days soaked-loping
from Firebase X where Charlie waits along the trail,
black mosquito with a stinger, copper-jacketed,
that ruptures trained brains or a foolhardy chest.
Nothing reminds us of a Diner in Indiana or New York.
This is a kitchen where disease drips from trees.

Were happy for a moments peace to swill dry mouths
out with a brew the hue of coffee
but the taste of burnt tires our guts have learned
to tolerate along with shrapnel crumbs.
Too tired to ask ourselves why were here
we light joints to avoid being besieged by answers.

Patriots all, we huddle, ready to salute death,
the general whos drafted tens of thousands on all sides.
The heat is stifling and makes us wish
we could pull on Charlies thin black pajamas
and still serve our violent mission as good grunts
who keep metaphoric dominoes from tumbling.

Theres Tex from Arizona who rode a bus
through a Panhandle night to Benning
and swears hell move to Amarillo if he outlives Nam.
Wash, from Harlem, paid a seamstress, who sits
near Saigons Paris brothel, to create a pair
of boxer shorts for him from a nylon Old Glory.

We swear in feigned joy well reunite
ten years from now to hide a pessimistic truth:
many will be long dead, and the rest will live
in furnished nightmares and forget the wish
to elbow at the bar in Denvers Browns Hotel.

Some will go home to beat their wives again,
others to pump gas near flying Turnpikes
or deliver milk in Boston suburbs before dawn.
We have learned to commit crimes like murder,
without facing trial. Some will try that. Ill wake
from night-sweats to write poems, still breakfasting in hell.

Oswald LeWinter

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