Walking Back from Woodstock by Earl S. Braggs


Earl S. Braggs' Walking Back from Woodstock links the psychodramatic public [that] America put itself through in the 1960s to our privacies, our childhoods, our love lives, the music we hummed as we muddled through. His book is jaunty, heartbroken, fast-talking, and true. -- William Matthews


The Things They Carried

(Crisco Martinez' 1950-1967)

for Tim O'Brien

Crisco died with his soldier in his hand.
That's right, he was taking a piss
and Charlie picked him out long distance.

The morning was one of those mornings
when everyone felt safe,
as safe as we could feel in the bush.
It was a scene perhaps from a war movie.
A platoon of eighteen boys in loose rank
walking towards daybreak.

The report we got said "The area ain't hot."
So we relaxed and walked slow
and talked low about girls back home.

Crisco's girl was Susan, a buxom blond
he said he met somewhere in California.
Said she was prettier than the picture
he carried like a god in his shirt pocket.
Said they were going to be married
when his tour was over.

It was a good day to be outside.
There was a breeze.
We were stepping from the shade
into bright sunlight.

We'd just smoked a joint
shoe-laced with heroin.
We were floating on seasick waves
and the horse was starting to kick.
We weren't paying attention.

The birds were singing.
The air smelled fresh.
The sky was chamber music and was clear.
It wasn't a morning for war movies.

We were walking in loose rank and laughing
and talking about girls back home.
We were drifting.
It wasn't hot.
There was a breeze.

The banyan trees were movie props
of slow dancing leaves.
The joint was good.
The horse was kicking.
We weren't paying attention.
We were joking and talking about girls.
Crisco was going to be married.

The sky was chamber music and was clear.
The birds were singing.
It wasn't hot.
There was a breeze.
It was a good day for a white wedding
and all the best men were standing right there.



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