War haiku

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Washington, D.C.

by John J. Dunphy

a rose tem
taped over a name
petals lying on the ground

four middle-age men
dressed in worn fatigues
huddle together and cry

fingering his name
a young woman tries
to recall her father

straining to read a name
he lifts himself a few inches
from his wheelchair

removing her wedding ring
she brushes it along
her husband's name

son of an MIA
the flag pin on his lapel

woman touches a name
while looking at
an old photo

elderly couple
their faces reflected
over their son's name

man in a filthy army jacket
tries to scratch on
his name

a candle
left burning on the ground
its flame almost out

(originally published in the November 1988 and Winter 1991 issues of Frogpond)

Copyright John J. Dunphy, 1988