Often at night I watched them in a circle of flashlights,

one minute banging an old guitar, sucking harmonicas,

keeping time with the toes of their jungle boots,

singing protest songs, the latest Beatles tunes,


then back from checking the wire, found them

laying in stupors around the hookah pipe,

like small boys finally worn down at the end

of an overnight back in The World


Charlie was always out there waiting,

sorely wanting us out of his country


Old man of the squad I stood watch

with my M-16, bowie knife and grenades


I find myself still singing the lines of those songs

fifty years gone

driving late at night over the broken streets

of my childhood city:


“I heard the the news today oh boy…”

“I ain’t no senator’s son…”

“We gotta get outta this place…”


burned on the scratchy cd’s of my brain


“Oh say can you see,” never sounded the same