BK II, Canto 3, viii. ix. x. xi.

viii. “O Gentle Soul! had you remain’d at hand,
Then could have I your game and fortune made!”
“Ah, Town,” (The Kid) “Your  Destinations grand
Indeed did bend my Will, but I’m afraid
I never thought about my Family’s Trade.
Pop’s ‘knuckle down’? That wasn’t in my plan!”
Chicago counter’d, “Fail’d to make the grade!”
And so  his inner dialog began;
Again he waded deep in what had hit the fan.

ix. “You came in Peace in 1968
On scholarship, Dad’s ca$h, the truth be told!”
“And yet I left (’tis  Folly to relate)!
My academic status I had sold;
Fraternities, sororities got old.”
“On stage, in film, on Radio, TV
You made a reputation to uphold!”
“I win the world, Old Town, by Flattery!”
The poster Child was he for “All Is Vanity”!

x.Chicago spread her charms, commenc’d to Brag,
On how she’d satisfy his hungry Eye.
“I spend, like, *time*, ’cause *bread* is not my bag!
My bills are paid. Skip class . I gotta fly!
Why should I have to know The reason why?
Just sitting in the dark where all is well;
Them John Ford westerns, man! A natch-ral high!
Those Roger Corman cheapies cast their spell!
I wants to catch the flicks? I simply hops the El!”

xi. “Yeah, at the Clark downtown a double bill
Chang’d ev’ry day- such opportunities
To get an education – get my fill
Of Hollywood directors!  Histories,
All talky, singing, dramas, mysteries,
Some bloodless  revolutions, I recall …
Then, having sat in strange consistories       All livelong day, I catch the train and all
To wash the dishes for the gals at Chapin Hall.”

BK II, Canto 3, iv. v. vi. vii

Top’s  Key

iv. And while machine gun typing’s not his way,
The Kid did keep Top’s keystrokes on his Mind,
He did Honour the brave in the affray.
His baser instinct’s never far behind,
However, while with others of his kind
At night out on the line, alive, with Sprites
And Spooks with whom he would unwind:
Unearthly gardens grown of Bosch delights;
Hallucinations wild; Heroin-ymus affrights.

Heroin-ymus Garden

v. You wonder who’s the user of the Skag
Who taught  Our Little Hero how to sail?
Who snuff’d her up his nose – that Snow White Hag?
Who guesses “Schnozz” the Addict? Epic fail!
Who dusted the Kid’s little fingernail?
His first dose free; Not even have to pay!
Who chose Our Boy chose Army over jail.
His judge was Mister Rogers. Can you say
“The Hippy Runaway who hails from San Jose”?

San Jose Chris

vi. A teenage runaway. A lenient bench
Who hop’d an Army stint would set Chris straight.
A high school clique all following the stench
Of Mary Jane to San Francisco’s Haight –
All passing through Addiction’s Golden Gate. Though now he seem’d dried out, it would appear,
There interven’d “The Fickle Finger, Fate”
So Chris became an MP volunteer.
He thought he’d lost his Bag; he found it in the rear.

Lost and Found

vii. Now none of this was known to the Top Kick … In fact he thought himself was more than fair
To coddle Kid. Mail Clerk was his first pick
When rumors of promotions fill’d the air.
The other, older soldiers stare’d The Stare.
Old Top goes, “Just so you know who to thank!
You make Spec Four so soon! That’s pretty rare!
Now, gimme service worthy of yer rank!”
For all great Favor shown, yet Kid was soon to tank.

The Stare

BK II, Canto 3, i.ii.iii.

Our Gentle Soul the postal clerk
Digs in behind a desk
Inventing as he rolls along
Hilarious burlesque.

Test-firing Heroics

i. Our college man, assigned  a desk with  reams
Of Army paperwork, spent  steamy days
Depicting brave heroics via Streams
Of Consciousness in single-spacing rays
Of inspiration, aping Beckett’s plays
As Army Commendations, bright Bronze Stars –
What e’re the carbon-copied, latest craze –
Emblazon’d, color’d ribbons, shiny bars,
To decorate men’s chests, then decorate their cars.


ii. “No medal for my UNTIRING PURSUIT:
ACCOMPLISHMENTS of barely-twisted Truth?
Committed, earnest COMPETENCE my fruit,
I artfully portray UNTIRING Youth;
ENHANCE who once were vilified, uncouth!
PROFESSIONAL deportment jack’d up high!
Each DA FORM conforming – yea, forsooth – Reflecting fine PERFORMANCE (So I lie?): GREAT CREDIT on others. EXCEPTIONAL? not I!”


iii. So typecast play’d he on, as came and went
The fourth of May, the day his mind was blown
The year before. A massacre at Kent
The very day his brilliant talents shone.
He kills; they kill. Now, never more alone,
Upon the green, a bullet in his side,
A wounded student lies, lets out a groan,
Upon the stage, just raging with his pride,
Our William Gruendler plays as William Schroeder died.

Kent State, 05/04/1970
WA-MU Show, 05/04/1970

July 5, 1971

Red Rockets' Glare

I was Independence Day partying out on the bunker line and witnessed the Red Rockets’ Glare as they sputtered overhead just after midnight on their deadly mission.



“My name is Steve Geffre and my room was at the end of barracks 937. Yes, I survived the direct hit. Yesterday, I honored my brothers 50 anniversary date and time at the ½ wall located in Pensacola, FL. I had originally planned on doing it at the Vietnam Memorial Wall in DC. But a recently move to Florida made it almost impossible be there.
I spent about two hours with the guys while others enjoyed the local fireworks display. I finished my normal five beers and prayers. The park security told me the park was closed and I needed to leave. It was 12:02 DaNang time. I said ok and stayed another 13 minutes… ” – posted to the Virtual Wall July 7, 2021

At fifteen minutes after midnight on July 5, 1971, Da Nang Airfield in Quang Nam Province, RVN, was the site of a standoff attack when five enemy 122mm rockets detonated almost simultaneously on base, killing five personnel from the Air Force’s 366th Field Maintenance Squadron, and injuring thirty-seven others.

The five lost airmen included *** SSGT Lawrence Wilkerson,. *** SGT Napoleon Johnson,. *** SGT Gilbert Ledger, *** TSGT Windol W. McNutt, *** SGT Isreal Medina.

Many of the seriously wounded were transferred by helicopter from the base’s 366th Dispensary to the 95th Evacuation Hospital in Da Nang. Barracks 933 and 937, both two-story buildings in Gunfighter Village (one of the main Air Force compounds), received direct hits. Of the five personnel killed, four were on the second floor. Fires immediately broke out and destroyed one of the barracks and half of another. In some cases, personnel were delayed from evacuating their rooms by unsecured wall lockers which had fallen across the doorways. Fire, water, and shrapnel also damaged two barracks in the immediate area. The other three rockets hit at various points on the base. One hit in the old Marine bomb dump causing no damage; another hit the aerospace ground equipment (AGE) repair yard and destroyed two portable heaters and a fence; the last impacted in the center of a road and severed power and telephone cables, leaving the east side of the base without power or telephone communications. [Taken from coffeltdatabase.org and documents provided by Barry L. Spink, Senior Archivist, Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell Air Force Base, AL

BK II, Canto 3, xxxi. xxxii. xxxiii. xxxiv.

Setting Sun, Setting Stage

xxxi. Such as two stagehands by the sandy bags
Might nightly prep the actors’ same old scene,
Doc holds the tripod, while his buddy drags
Along the props to hold down that machine
Who’d make her entrance like a famous Queen:
That Amazon – Antiope! Oh boy!
Kid shoots the photos, keeps her ammo clean.
Her lines are fed by Shel in quiet Joy,
But little do we care we’re on the walls of  Troy.

“Her lines are fed … “

xxxii. “Since when is Headspace such a thing with you?”
Says Doc to Shel, “Her Highness on your Mind?”
“No doubt,” says Shel, “She cannot miss her cue,
Or we be flappin’ in the breeze, behind
The eight ball, trippin’. So I thought I’d find
A feeler of my own. Not gonna take
A chance that, in his same-same, same old grind
Our armorer, with not as much at stake,
Just might have let Her slide, our Darling to forsake!”

Head Space?
“… a  Feeler of my own … “

xxxiii. The ritual  reviv’d when Shel was  through.
“O Goddess!” (such as he thought her to be)
“We burn our cartridge powder just for you!”
A deity of Death they call’d  Kali,
As worshipp’d by those “GUNGA DIN” Thuggee
Invok’d our Hero’s mem’ry.  So she came
Of Late-nite TV bless’ed memory.
Arising tall by Incantation flame,
He shouted to The Hill; it echo’d back her name.


xxxiv. Her timing right, cacaphony ensu’d.
‘Twas fun to watch her sudden tracer glance
Among the rocks and rills. How very rude
Her Dum-Dum round, her armor-piercing Lance!
Against her shafts no foe would dare  advance!
Our Kid now went all humble: Gunga Din
With Shel; all butterflies: begg’d for a Chance
No matter what his stomach’s shape was in.
Shel’s right bicep replied, “Baby, you’re BORN TO WIN.”


BK II, Canto 3, xxvii. xviii. xxi. xxx.

Our Gentl’d Soul

xxvii. As though run over by a puffing train,
His boxcar full of Loco Weed derail’d,
Our Gentl’d Soul found thinking but in vain;
For thinking thoughts that night would have entail’d
A Yardbird’s thoughts of home, letters not mail’d.
Such musings could create a real bad Scene.
Just when he knew his Crystal Ship had sail’d
A sailor in  a different shade of green        Was seen. “I’m Javez, man.”  He met his first Marine.


xxviii. With gun-black hair, close-cropp’d over his ears,
Which match’d his moustache, eyebrows for support,
  Jet black his eyes, dark-wise beyond their years,
  His attitude of quite another sort.
“So, why,” Kid wonder’d, “would this guy  consort
With lowly Army scum? Why would he grace
A dead bunker?” “This us’d to be my fort,”
Javez went on, “My Mother Deuce would chase
The Blues and Gooks away. This was our party place.”

Blues Chaser

xxix. And on his right Hip hung a sharp K-bar:                                                                          Stacked, oval leather washers squeeze’d  her tang;                                                .                  Her lengthy, leather sheath had been to war;
Her shiny butt-cap. “Buddy, call her ‘Fang’,
But never call her out to ‘do her thang’.
She do that scene in SEVEN SAMURAI.”
As though to break the spell, the field phone rang.
The Kid, amaz’d, deci’ded he would try
To get one of those blades – right after he got high ….

” … never call her out … “

xxx. So soon, with brains all crisp’d, like golden fries,
Their speech catsup’d with wild profanities,
They launch’d out into windless, Pink Floyd skies,
Propell’d into their wild inanities,
Deep breathing each his own insanities;
And lest the gang be heedless of his crap,
Kid shouted out, “Who kill’d the Kennedies?”
He did by dumping into his own lap
Thereby initiate his first night’s bunker rap.

Astronomy Domine

NOCTURNE of the Enlisted, 1971 …

About the bunkers, quiet as your mom
Watching you in your dreams, the Vietnam night
Begins to fall; and soon will come her stars
To look down on the land’s fake harmony.
And men with guns again await their fates.
You stand or squat on sandbags, watching where
Yon setting sun now shines on Freedom Hill.

The Dum-Dum rounds impact on Freedom Hill.
You grin, test-firing in the creeping dark,
Conventions of Geneva quite forgot!
Jets, passing over, emptied of their loads
Will perch at DaNang Airbase for the night.
NOW: who will own Tonight? will Peace, or War?
Our peasant army – or the NVA’s?

A great gulf spans our ‘wired property;
To barb’d eyes, then, our compound feels secure.
So, we begin again to cheat ourselves
By doping ecstasies. And do we “Halt:
Who goes there!”? With our ordnance close at hand
We have the means to turn the night to day!
Besides, the Lifers?  safe and snug in bed.

And ”Puff” (read “Spooky”) anxious to assist!
So, snort it up your nose! Inhale! and hold!
It’s but a pinch of Skag – a fresh-rolled Jay!
And we begin to turn ourselves to ghosts.
Summon the Muse; The Witching Hour has struck.
Our stoner faces poison’d into masks,
We’ll hit the heights tonight and let ”them” rest.

”Them” Lifers sleep: Juicers who drink their rules.  .  . “Us” Draftees, nephews of our Uncle Sam In voices faded, whisper’d, addl’d, burn’d
Commence to rap. Our gunbarrels long cool’d,
Atop our sandbagged fortress, we nod out;
Oblivious to time, in wakeful sleep,
Incapable to stir: children besot.

(Apologies to Edmund Blunden, 1929)

BK II, Canto 3, xxiii. xxiv. xxv. xxvi.

Our Cast

xxiii.  Our cast of characters upon that stage
Call’d Bunker Sev’n  grew by that eve’ning’s light.
All conscripts playing out the scripted page,
Some college dropouts, some not quite so bright,
Right out of Central Casting – what a  Sight!
The lusty gunner, Shel, who’d hump and fire
Old Moses Browning’s weapon. Tho’ he might
Pretend to love Ma Deuce, her awful Ire,
To get home to Tempe was his heart’s sole Desire.

Shel of Tempe

xxiv. San Bernadino, California sent
Us Sully, who admitted he was led
By Love of money. When his money’s spent
He’d listen to the music in his head:
A white Madonna Shrine above his bed,
He claim’d, would sing to him. And when she sang
Sweet Words, it was that Beatles song, he said.
A hippie, Southern California twang
Infus’d his righteous words. Our Hero tried, “Let’s hang!”

Sully & Ralf

xxv. Two men and Ralf of Motor Pool had Grac’d
The bunker under Freedom Hill’s green Brow
For many moons now; so, their stash Jeep plac’d
Inside the Seven. “Don’t forget to bow
And duck your head in meekness or she’ll cow
Your skull into submission. When you’ve plac’d
Your trust in Mary Jane and made your vow,” The Jeep explain’d, “bring her topside. We’ve laced
Some menthol KOOLs with Skag. You ever been poop-fac’d?”

Jeep: Tripping

xxvi. “No fair,” complain’d the Kid, “It ain’t no fair!
I work tomorrow! This just ain’t my night!”
But Jeep was tripping. Soon the scorching Air
Of menthol cool’d tobacco, dusted white
With heroin, so pure, clouded his Plight.
One cigarette besprinkl’d with that stuff
One weeded, puffing pipe, a sweet delight
Was all it took. The Kid call’d his own bluff:
“Just trying to get high. Just never seems enough.”


BK II Canto 3, xix. xx. xxi. xxii.

Like Men of Old

xix. They stay’d not one more minute, but away
They suddenly quite vanish out of sight:
Like Men of old whose helmets wings  display,
Their weapons glittering in day’s last light,
Out to the wire, to sandbag towers’ height,
To bunkers – tombs – to  trenches, silent, still,
Like open, zig-zag graves. Their ston’d delight
Each night? Repeat Tradition’s same old drill:
The Watchmen on the wall. The wherewithal to kill.

Same Old Drill

xx. Doc said, “Here, Grundy, make yourself of use.
I got the tripod; Shel, here’s got the gun.
You hump the ammo for our dear Ma Deuce.”
Kid, trembling like a leaf, did fairly run
And grab two steel cans of link’d ball: a ton
Of Fifty Cal those bullets seem’d to weigh! 
The Doc and Shel seem’d to be having fun,
As far as Kid’s concern’d, it seem’d like they
Were Hamlet’s gravediggers, at work they were at play.


xxi. “I’m sayin’ if you O D,” (this was Shel)
It do not matter what your race or creed;
You accidentally go straight to hell!”
“A decent dude in thought and word and  deed,”
Said Doc, “on purpose, if he takes heed
To what might happen if he takes too much
Of alcohol or Scag, but not of Weed,
He might be poppin’ poppers, pills and such,
But how now could he crush his own skull with a crutch?”

Doc and Shel – Ma Deuce

xxii. “I’m talkin’ unintended suicide,”
Said Shel, “I take the dope, I get too high? Ain’t gonna go where angels do abide!”
“Your logic’s nowhere clear as this here sky,”
The Doc ascended Bunker Seven.”Try
Your Reasoning on optimistic grounds.”
They set the gun. A couple guys came by.
“Let Grundy Gruns squeeze off a couple rounds!”
Burn’d their incantation – grooving with the sounds.

The Incantation