A Knock At The Door

I lived off-base in Okinawa with my first husband from 1967-1968. One night living in a secluded area without a phone or car a young soldier on leave from Vietnam decided to harass me. I was not frightened but it really began to annoy me after some time. This poem is a description of the experience.

A Knock At The Door

Pitch black no one around
silence upon the grounds
after ten, all had gone
a knock at the door.

Across from
McToureous Marine Base
in a compound with no phones,
no car, no English.

It was late that night
For a knock at the door
I went to answer but
there was no one there.

Puzzlement nudged me,
I know that I had heard
the hand of someone knocking.
Then again came the knock.

I opened wide and looked
from side to side
just empty space
no fear just curiosity.

Again came your knock.
I went round the house
beyond the light you stood
why knock and hide I said?

Then understanding came,
I went back inside and locked up tight.
You tossed light pebbles
at the glass that night.

Two hours you tossed.
“Remove your clothes,” you said.
“dance for me.” I am
on leave from Vietnam.

I have not seen a
woman for so long.
“Please dance for me. I want to see.”
I shoved a knife through the window.

“You pervert you,” I said.
Fear crawled up my side.
On the floor my baby cried.
When will someone come?

You kept this up for hours, nothing but
Monsoon shutters between us.
I heard a car, it was
the Sarg next door home early.

My being then relaxed
He called my husband at Torii Station.
You were to flee my midnight friend
I wonder today are you OK?

Did you recover from your delirium?
Did you recover from your wounds?
Did you leave Vietnam? Or did you return
To come home in a wooden box?

© Liz Rice-Sosne

Placed at Poets United Poetry Pantry

Advertisements

War Poems – A Certain Madness

I had a significant spiritual experience in 2005. It radically changed my life. It was the second life changing spiritual experience that I have had. The first was Christian in nature. The experience came to me via my plea “what do you want me to do? What should I do now?” The experience was the answer. This experience was shamanic in nature. Shamanism is something that I have studied for years. This experience lasted about 6 weeks and made me appear to be having a “breakdown” of some sort. My friends were quite worried. My husband trusted me but worried nonetheless. It was very dramatic, painful and ecstatic. I knew that I was doing exactly what I was meant to do. None the less I hung on for dear life. It was extremely hard to remain grounded. To do so I engaged the services of three different people. I remember one particularly humorous act (although I as not laughing at the time). I found myself purposefully in Forest Park a great deal answering to my experience. I was in touch with a Great Horned Owl and a Red-Tailed Hawk who each resides in this huge park. One evening I was meant to take to the hawk, as an act of thanks, a chicken wing and place it upon a particular iron pole that was 5 inches in diameter and about 3 feet high that sat in the middle of the ball fields. It was Friday night. My husband kindly came with me to Straub’s the family grocery where I shop. On Friday night the place is mobbed. So, I get in line at the butchers and wait until my turn. There is quite a wait. When it is finally my turn I order one chicken wing. Everyone else in line waiting their turn goes nuts. One chicken wing? Well no actually just a half of a wing I do not want the drummy.

For all of my life veterans were to be thought of on Memorial Day and on Veterans day. I was conceived immediately after WWII. So, my relation to veterans was not unusual. After my experience in 2005 that included experiencing the emotional torment of those who have seen battle changed me radically. I studied war. I volunteered at the VA for several years and I gained a healthy respect and love for veterans. I might add I truly gained a deep respect and love for Vietnam Vets as they are of my generation. I also acquired an abhorrence for war. I truly came to understand “love the warrior, hate the war. Most cannot enter into that cliche and act upon it. It is very tricky and very difficult.

The other thing that I did was write about 20 poems about war, veterans, acts of war … really anything that came out of my experience that year. I wish to post them here for critique, literary critique. The changes that I make as a result of this criticism will be made in my files, not within the blog post. I will thank you a head of time for your reading and criticism. My first poem has been up and critiqued so I will begin with the second. It is titled: “A Certain Madness.” It is about those who attended one particular writing class at the VA.

A Certain Madness

Each one came, soldier, marine, airman, frog
walking quietly as if wrapped from within
the cocoon of his own world.

War’s sad energy like a gray
heavy mist lay upon the shoulders of each,
reality spiking their dull black piercing shadows.

Each man sat at the table abandoned.
“Just a word”?
“Coffee please”.

“May we write yet?”
And then he stood.
A large and heavy presence, poorly balanced.

He shouted …
“Don’t you see them?
There, in the corners … one in each corner.”

“How dare they come here?
I ought-a know,
I was with the CIA.”

Then he sat down defeated again.
He seemed to relax until another
Stream of madness crept out of his throat.

“I will NOT be giving you a sample today!
There will be no writing samples.
THEY … are here for that reason you know, to collect them.”

And I thought to myself,
Does the madness hide the pain?
Or perhaps this pain drives one mad.

2008 © Liz Rice-Sosne

writing combat ptsd

at this table
this quiet place
where they write
this flat surface
where poetry
spills
for the hungry ones
those
who wish to leave
their wars
behind
where recidivism
is high
where
eyes are glazed
stares penetrating
where
nothing is
given away
not even longing
empty bodies
hollowed
anger
in a
fog
they write

Copyright Liz Rice Sosne 09/30/2013
Dedicated to those veterans who saw combat and who were in my writing classes.

Placed at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads for Open Link Monday.

Damn Vietnam

War really, really screws with the senses, the emotions, the body, the mind and everything else of which we humans are made. It destroys and contorts, it turns inside out, it twists and slices the emotions and the soul. When done with war if you are alive you are a different human being.

Can you? Do you go forward as this new you? Can you go back to being who you once were? No. Never. And this because you are now a different man or woman. But all of the hell that you have lived through can be chewed over and re-digested into something positive with very hard work. I tried unsuccessfully to place this at dVerse for Memorial Day. And, although not explicitly true to today’s theme – in reality it is. Found at dVerse for Synesthesia–Sensory Confusion, or…? dVerse Meeting the Bar.

Damn Vietnam

you have been home
some forty years
your rifle
under your pillow
each night
while you fire away in your sleep
I wonder why
for the war is over

Damn Vietnam

but it
is not over
no
it is 1966
all over again
the NVA
has just crossed the
DMZ
you are in the middle
of the biggest battle yet
five thousand
marines
you head north
Operation Hastings
Dong Ha
you have
arrived in hell
warships
and air power drive
them back
finally, after so many
are
lost

Damn Vietnam

you say nothing
until the whiskey
burns your throat
and the rage begins
its long climb up
as you attempt to
vomit out your hell
your war still there
on the surface
anger roiling
through your blood
you should be asleep old man
but your wounds are
deep

Damn Vietnam

last night looking up
into the trees
clouds sailing
across the moon
crows speaking
I listened
while they spoke
of knowledge
of wisdom
of healing that would come
to my brothers
who were there

Damn Vietnam

Posted at dVerse for Memorial Day in Pretzels and Bullfights – see the wonderful article by Laurie Kolp. Well, this is not quite true. I did not find a link to actually publish. It might be coming later. But do read Laurie’s article.