Passage I

                    Our brains ache, in the merciless iced east winds that knives us...
                    Wearied we keep awake because the night is silent...
                    Low, drooping flares confuse our memory of the salient...
                    Worried by silence, sentries whisper, curious, nervous,
5                                       But nothing happens.

                    Watching, we hear the mad gusts tugging on the wire,
                    Like twitching agonies of men among its brambles.
                    Northward, incessantly, the flickering gunnery rumbles,
10                                      What are we doing here?

                    The poignant misery of dawn begins to grow...
                    We only know war lasts, rain soaks, and clouds sag stormy.
                    Dawn massing in the east her melancholy army
                    Attacks once more in ranks on shivering ranks of gray,
15                                      But nothing happens.

                    Sudden successive flights of bullets streak the silence.
                    Less deadly than the air that shudders black with snow,
                    With sidelong flowing flakes that flock, pause, and renew,
                    We watch them wandering up and down the wind's nonchalance,
20                                     But nothing happens.

                    Pale flakes with fingering stealth come feeling for our faces-
                    We cringe in holes, back on forgotten dreams, and stare, snow-dazed.
                    Deep into grassier ditches.  So we drowse, sun-dozed,
                    Littered with blossoms trickling where the blackbird fusses.
25                                  Is it that we are dying?

                    Slowly our ghosts drag home: glimpsing the sunk fires, glozed
                    With crusted dark-red jewels; crickets jingle there;
                    For hours the innocent mice rejoice: the house is theirs;
                    Shutters and doors, all closed: on us the doors are closed,-
30                                  We turn back to our dying.

                    Since we believe not otherwise can kind fires burn;
                    Nor ever suns smile true on child, or field, or fruit.
                    For God's invincible spring our love is made afraid;
                    Therefore, not loath, we lie out here; therefore were born,
35                                     For love of God seems dying.

                    Tonight, His frost will fasten on this mud and us,
                    Shriveling many hands, puckering foreheads crisp.
                    The burying-party, picks and shovels in their shaking grasp,
                    Pause over half-known faces.  All their eyes are ice,
40                                      But nothing happens.

                                                                            -Wilfred Owen P>Passage II

They carried USO stationery and pencils and pens.  They carried Sterno,
safety pins, trip flares, spools of wire, razor blades, chewing
tobacco, statuettes of the smiling Buddha, candles, grease pencils, The
Stars and Stripes, fingernail clippers, bush hats, bolos, and much more.
5  Twice a week, when the resupply choppers came in, they carried hot
chow in green mermite cans and large canvas bags filled with iced beer
and soda pop.  They carried plastic water containers, each with a two-
gallon capacity.  Mitchell Sanders carried a set of starched tiger fatigues
for special occasions.  Henry Dobbins carried Black Flag insecticide.  Dave
Jensen carried empty sandbags that could be filled at night for added
protection.  Lee Strunk carried tanning lotion.  Some things they carried in
common.  Taking turns, they carried the big PRC-77 scrambler radio
which weighed 30 pounds with its battery.  They shared the weight of
memory.  They took up what others could no longer bear.  Often, they
carried each other, the wounded or weak.  They carried infections.  They
cared chess sets, basketballs, Vietnamese-English dictionaries, insignia
of rank, Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts, plastic cards imprinted with the
Code of Conduct.  They carried diseases, among them malaria and
dysentery. They carried lice and ringworm and leeches and paddy algae and various rots
and molds.They carried the land itself--Vietnam. the place, the soil...dust that covered their
boots and fatigues and faces. They carried the sky...the stink of fungus, and decay, all of it,
they carried gravity.