Rod McQueary

Rod McQueary served with the 1st Marine Division as a military policeman near Da Nang. He is a third generation cattle rancher who now works for a ticket printing company in Nevada. He writes poetry and performs throughout the U.S.


inside the proud bird
after the hot asphalt jet exhaust
blowing orders papers into
after the cheering had subsided in the darkened cabin
everybody asleep
across from me one seat behind
a black sergeant wakes sobbing
for a dog.
best friend I ever had he says
saved me lots a times
best friend I ever had
I mumble some simple kindness
he looks at me just looks
rejects my hollow sympathy
I turn away ashamed
I never meant to intrude.

pretty soon I sneak a look
he stares
face hard
through the black window
at home movies he'll watch
a million times
in years to come
he has learned secrets about
no one should know and
in this jet full of
in that weird world ahead
he knows
he knows
there is no one to tell

for Bill Jones, and the others


I run, hide, backtrack, but-
They know all my tricks.
They find me, eventually,
and beat me, and haul me
to some clearing
in the jungle.
There are a dozen or so, about a squad.
With my broken teeth, and battered eyes,
I can hardly tell
what they tied me to,
but I know what's next.
It's a dream of what Sauvagio said he found...
One night, while drunk, he told me-
What they did to the two GIs
One White, one Black, they caught
(too bad, I think, to tell here)
Sauvagio found 'em
They cut 'em down
Cut the stitches in their lips
Put back the body parts traded
Started trying to forget
Mentioned it.
This dream, they chuckle
Take their time, joke with each other
Show me the knife, and laugh
This dream, I mean to show 'em
I'm no goddamn girl
I'm no goddamn kid anymore
For the Corps, for my Country
For my family
I'm 2612933
and I pray
God, ogod ogod
Let me die now
Jesus, it hurts
don't let 'em see
don't let em see

I'm weeping

Covered with sweat, panting
Shaking with fear, and fatigue
I wake again, exhausted.

Last night, April 25, 1991
They came again.
It's not good jungle
It's not very hot, but-
It's the same squad.
I know them all.
I am astounded to see I'm holding
a 60. I don't want a 60, it's heavy
It's slow
No extra barrel
No glove
The link belt is too short for this work.
I get a 16 50 shot banana
I like a 16
They don't kick, just sort of flinch
Spit fire fling copper
Jitter left from the ejector throwing cases
The tall one is close, smiling.
Shows me his knife again
I pop him, tentative-like to see what he'll
One neat little 5.56 hole between his
His hat flies off
His skull blows up
(Who you gonna crucify now, asshole?)
He falls face down, dead.
I shoot them all.
Last one runs
I'm calm now, doing business
Shooting good now
I let him run a ways, then shoot him
In the butt to knock him down
Just because I can, and
'Cause I got a few things to tell this
For Con, whose dreams are green
And stink
And are so evil,
His mind won't record them
I'm going to tell this bastard
For Bill, and Joe, and the others
who NEED so bad to let it go, and can't
For our families, who tryandtryandtry
to understand, and can't
I'm going to tell this bastard
For poor Artie and the second 58
Who folded
Whose names are on no Black Wall List
I'm going to tell this bastard
For all the wives and parents, who sent
And got animals back
And for them who will
See justice in this world
I'm going to tell this bastard
M-16 barrel jammed up his goddamn
I'm going to tell this bastard
...Joke's over.