Vietnam in the Edge of West Texas
Michelle Brooks
On the decommissioned army base on the outskirts
of town, a home for juvenile delinquents named
Edgemeade sat near blocks of cement with names
of Vietnamese villages on them. Not much happened
there since helicopter pilots trained to drop bombs
during the war, flying low to read the exotic-sounding
names that now served as make-out spots for local
teenagers looking for a place where they weren't likely
to be disturbed. Sometimes the Edgemeade kids
would set fire to old barracks, sparks that went up
fast on the edge of West Texas. Even though there
wasn't much to burn, it looked spectacular,
particularly if you were close. The concrete blocks
never suffered any damage; the villages stood intact
waiting for more couples to discover them~
Than Ke, Quang Ngai, Tri Binh~words
that didn't sound like anything you'd ever understand

until you were there, places that you only went
to at night, lit by distant fires that left traces
of things that had long since been abandoned.

Michelle Brooks has published work in Eclipse, Orchid, Phoebe, Gargoyle, The Circle, and elsewhere. Her poem "Attention" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She lives in Michigan.