Explaining War


Sergeant Rooney

In a hospital bed

Sergeant Rooney’s face

Explains war

To the backs of a

Two-star general

And a beauty queen.

       —

Backstory: I wrote this the day a two-star general and Miss New Jersey (1971) were visiting Walson Army Hospital, Fort Dix New Jersey. I was finishing up my two-year stint in the Army as a “guide” of sorts for dignitaries touring the ward filled with those injured in Vietnam. A sergeant had lost a leg. He tried to sit at attention when approached by the “celebrities.” As the general and the beauty queen walked away, his face cracked with tears. I’ll never forget the look. War sucks.

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