Love And War

Love And War


Thomas Brinson

Sample Poem


Scanning an article about self-discovery
from one of the right magazines artfully scattered about
I sit in muted upscale offices Vogue-ishly interior decorized
on East 74th three fashionable doors off Fifth Avenue

Hair un-Esquirely over-long but washed blown dry
clad in neatly pressed suit with matching cardigan
(no matter Fayva imitation shoes are slightly leather bare at toe)
I not-so-subtly eavesdrop on polite banterings
laced with professionalisms and one-up-personisms
from the gaggle of prep school administrators
who have just been topically work shopped

One in Bloomingdales and Estee Lauder
queries the young Lord-and-Taylored harpy
(twenty years at least my junior)
about her lover’s career advancements

She chicly smiles shrugging a padded shoulder and
with Calvin-Kleined pose laughingly replies

I am dumb-bolted by the military slang
from Vietnam and flash back
over two decades
to that far-off bad place
made too present again

I clench away tears
sprung from memories
of strewn earth after napalm
and blood-red open sewers
wondering how in eternity
she knows that phrase

                    1985?  Garden City, NY

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"...the red plastic flower highlighted in an old black and white photo of Lt. Thomas Brinson sitting beneath a machine gun in a jeep in Vietnam is the cover art for "Love & War." Sometimes, Brinson wrote in his introduction to this collection, he "stuck a live lotus blossom in the barrel of the M-60 Machine Gun, emulating the famous picture" of an antiwar protester putting a flower in a soldier's rifle barrel."  "Perhaps the most chilling piece in this collection is Brinson's memory of coming home from war and looking out of the airliner descending to land at National Airport on April 4, 1968.” I rubbed my eyes, peered out the window again, thought I was hallucinating or dreaming, was much drunker than I thought I was, became very frightened, and couldn’t believe what I was seeing... I had just left that scene two days almost and 12,000 miles ago! Why was Washington burning?" Stumbling into a bar to order a stiff drink, he saw in a daze "TV news showing scenes of the aftermath of Martin Luther King's assassination in Memphis three hours before I landed in D.C. Washington, like so many other ghetto areas in cities across our red, white & blue land, was a fire from the rage of blacks. 'Welcome Home, Son.' The bartender murmured." —Jan Barry, author of Earth Songs: New and Selected Poems