Thursday, May 21, 2015

The LZ (a Memorial Day Tribute to our Fallen Heroes)

They marked our LZ
With yellow smoke.

Coming in hot
We drew fire
All along the perimeter.

Our rotors stirred
The elephant grasses
Whipping them into a sea
Of green lashes
Snapping like thousands
Of angry serpents.

Streaking green tracers
Stretched for us.
AK rounds pierced our thin
Aluminum skin
And I waited a thousand years
For young Marines to
Run like hell
For our open door.

Our gunner poured it on
Screaming and laughing
Through his shock.

The sharp tang of cordite
And acrid wisps of hot oil
And leaking coolant
Filled the compartment.

The gunner continued to scream
Above the chatter of his .50.

Three boys fell in the grass.
Six gathered them up
Dragging their limp bodies
Leaving greasy red streaks
In the tall grass.

High above
A Jolly Green circled
Like the Angel of Death
Raining bright flashing hell on the jungle
Setting fire to the earth.

The gunner shouted in my ear piece…
Do it now!

I poured the power on
Adjusted the prop pitch
And felt the earth falling away
Clawing for sky
Straining to live
To carry us home.

We trailed thick black smoke
Across the china blue.
I felt the Huey stutter
As the bright green grass
Reached for us.

It’s amazing
The vast sum of thoughts
That spear the mind
In the half second after you know
It’s over.

A shattered rotor sheared
Through the glass cockpit
Like the Hammer of Thor.
Shards of glass
And bits of aluminum
Became lethal shrapnel
As our Huey
Dug into the earth.

All was flame
And flesh.

What will Laura think when she sees the Chaplain coming?

LZ is “Landing Zone”
• Yellow Smoke comes from a grenade purposed to designate where to best land as well as obscure what is happening within the smoke
• Jolly Green is a gun ship, bristling with fire powder
• Huey was the American helicopter workhorse

Try This....

Dear Readers,
When visiting this blog, upon opening the page, tap the "escape" button on your keyboard. This will prevent any diversion to a shopping page. This has been a serious annoyance to readers. I've tried this, and it works every time. It is, of course, not the best answer, but it is a stop-gap until something else can be done.

As always, thank you for your readership. Your visit is appreciated!

~ James

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sometime in the Night

Sometime in the night
The rain turned to ice.
Had she been awake
She would have heard
The light scratching at the panes
Made by the falling pellets.

But she slept.

Sometime in the night
She dreamt
Of his warm touch
His fierce embrace
His left hand under her head
His right beneath the small of her back.

She inhaled his exhalations
Felt his beard against her face
Knew the warm melding of their
Complaint bodies.
This was her dream.

Sometime in the night
The ice thickened
The tapping at the panes
Growing more insistent.

Her dream changed.
He was out there
Somewhere in the night
Calling for her
Wanting her to come to him.

But it was so cold.
It was so dark.
He was so far
Too far away.
She saw his beckoning arms
His fingers stretching toward her.
He was becoming a block of ice
Encumbered with ice
Falling down

Sometime in the night
She awoke.
The tapping and scratching of ice pellets
Transitioned to heavy snow.
The trees
Electric lines were covered white
Bowed to earth.

Turning on her side
She huddled under the thick blanket.
Her husband lay beside her
His mouth open
Lightly snoring
Hands folded across his chest.
He was ice
And he was layered thick upon
Her life.

The one she once knew
Long ago
Was somewhere in the night
And she would never know him again
Never know
What it was to be warm
Ever again.

Monday, May 18, 2015


His strawberry roan grazed
In grassy clumps
Along the river bank.
The aging man called
Sat against a willow.

The sad branches
Both horse and man
In its gentle embrace.
The mist rising
Filled the nostrils
Of human
And toads
With a forlorn
Wistful aroma.

Many years had passed.
All was different now
All that mattered
And Chance's body was
His mind
His road
Played out.

Ate the last of his bread
Drank the last of his coffee
Smoke the last of his tobacco
And studied the last of his thoughts.

The saddle was lifted
From the roan
The bridle and blanket
Tossed on the damp earth.
Chance reflected that he, too
Was just another piece
Of the mix
Scattered along the riverbank.

Let the small fire
Burn to embers
While the mist thickened
Into a white shroud.

Retrieved the Walker
From the worn leather holster
Checking the rounds
In the wheel.
All is as should be.
The roan made contented noises
As it moved downriver
Among the sweet grass.

High above
Stars complained to the night sky.
Leaning hard against the willow
Made effective use
Of the powder
Packed in one brass casing.

And the roan moved along the bank
In the closing gloom.

Continued Difficulty

Dear Readers,
I cannot explain why, when visiting this site, you are often diverted to a shopping site. I have had two conversations with Google concerning this. It seemed, for a brief time, they corrected the problem. But the "thing" is back with a fury! I am once more appealing to Google, but if it is not fixed, my only choice would be to recreate this site at Word Press. I apologize for the annoyance. I take my craft seriously, and it frustrates me more than any other. Your continued visits to The Dashboard Poet encourage me more than you know.
~~ James

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Standing beside the bed
I watched her sleep
In morning light
Streaming the window.

The blinds diagonal shadow
Banded her
Like a candy cane
From toe to head.

Her breath was deep
Her breasts rising and falling
Her right hand under her head
Her left across her tummy.

I pulled the blanket
Below her chin
Kissing her cheek
Then sat back in a chair.

There are moments
The best memories
Flow by
Without narration.

They accumulate like
December snow
Piling the years
In times both hard and easy.

Soon she will awake
Make her morning tea
And ask whether the dogs
Had been out.

I know her
As I know my own ways.
I love her
As I love my own flesh.

Isn’t she lovely
In the morning sun
Painted in shadow and light?

Welcome, Small One!

This morning, at 8:15, my son and his wife presented me my first grandson! I am thrilled beyond description. He is, as yet, unnamed, but this little guy has been blessed to be in a family of those who will love and nurture him beyond limit. I haven't yet seen him, but will soon cradle him in my arms, and walk him into a quiet corner, where I will pray blessing upon him, as I have done with others who came before. He honors me in the promise he will bear our family name into the depths of this century. May he do good, love well, work hard, and achieve much.

I love this wee one.

~~ Grandpa James

Comb the Wind

Some day I will
Lay my body down
In the sands of a forlorn
Patrolled by gull
And sand crab.

I will exhale my vitality
Into the grey
Between surf and sky
And climb from this
Broken body
As does a warrior
From the wreckage
Of his conveyance.

I will climb the clouds
And mount the stars.

Left to the sands
My ribs will comb the wind.
The tide will wash me clean.
My bones will bleach
In the salt and spray
Of the surf’s ivory.
Like the hulk of a forgotten machine
I will be dismissed.

Let my legacy be
The love of all things beautiful
The mystery of life in clay
The majesty of truth in language
The passion of breath
The joy of song
The power of truth
The peace of approaching dusk
And the hope of renewing dawn.

But for all this
Let my ribs comb the wind.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Cold Camp '99

The best camp
I ever hated
Was the
Cold Camp
Of ’99.

There were no sounds
But that of
And whatever prowled
My perimeter.

There was no fire
Other than stars and planets
Fierce above.

Dull thoughts
Plucked at my heart
Rendering discordant
Needless strain.

There are times
It is reasonable
To reject joy
To have no diversion.

It is good
To stare into the darkness
Knowing anything may be
Staring back.

Early in the slate
Of morning
Lightening strobbed
And thunder rolled the river.
Great splats of rain
Threw their cartridges
Against the nylon of my tent.

Until the monochrome
Of dawn
I wrapped my soul
In the ensuing deluge.

An empty heart
Requires a Cold Camp
To sharpen the blade
Against its strop.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Aces and Eights

Don’t let it bother you
She said softly to me.
I don’t need to know this.
I just wish you could see.

I thought if I told her
It may help her understand.
But no amount of talking
Could change the cards in my hand.

Aces and eights were what I saw
So I folded them away.
Maybe we can talk again later.
Maybe another day.

I don’t think that’s likely
She said softly, a second time.
You’re far too much a dreamer.
You want a dollar for a dime.

Aces and eights is the death hand
Marked by tragedy and blood.
A chill shook my body
Like an irresistible flood.

Don’t let it bother you
She said softly once more.
Then she retreated into the shadows
And walked out my door.

Aces and eights were in my hand.
She could not deal new game.
What’s in the past is in marble
And it will never be the same.