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Leroy Quintana poems

April 27, 2009
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Hopper came twice within a step of dying
Once was in Brooklyn while working as a hodcarrier
fifty stories up
The people below small as insects
when the scaffolding teeter-tottered under him suddenly
The second time was in the Nam,
bullets whispering violently by
as he pushed himself as deeply as possible
against the ground
Fifty stories below
the smallest of insects as large as automobiles
darting on a blade of grass


Brownie had been a prisoner of war in Korea
So thin he looked almost starved
His dark eyes hard, forgiving, somehow indifferent
Softspoken if he said anything at all
It was said he had been tortured
We students of the Catholic school were forever selling
Christmas seals, magazine subscriptions, statues
The nuns would tell us God had spared Brownie’s life
and that he should be eternally grateful
But he always politely turned us down
Sister Rita talked about him as though he was a heathen,
a Communist. He never bought so much as a raffle ticket.

A Restaurant in Munich

A restaurant in Munich
Something in the summer afternoon
The sadness of a day in fall
The sadness of these men who became men
in a war the year I was born
These the men who bore weapons of steel
blue as their eyes for the father land
Eyes that have stalked men, perhaps my uncles
through the sights of their rifles
They laugh manly laughs, tease the homely waitress,
raise tall glasses of beer golden as their hair
Somewhere in this country there stood a bridge
that long ago was destroyed by dynamite
Grandfather’s nephew broken
as the good bread of this noon

Copyright © Leroy V. Quintana

Leroy Quintana
is the winner of two American Book Awards, was born and raised in New Mexico and served in the LRRPs (Long Range Recon Patrol) in the Vietnam War. He is author of La Promesa and Other Stories (Oklahoma) and the poetry collections The Great Whirl of Exile (Curbstone), The History of Home, and My Hair Turning Gray Among Strangers (Bilingual Press). ~Ploughshares

These three poems were made available by the Sixties Project, are generally copyrighted by the Author or by Viet Nam Generation, Inc., all rights reserved. These texts may be used, printed, and archived in accordance with the Fair Use provisions of U.S. Copyright law.

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