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His Last Name is GOSTISHA

By Greg Hoover

The boy from Santa Clara
smoking a red pipe,
had his young nose high in the air
opening a military door;
he found no answer there.
The Stars and Stripes were on the floor
with columns of black and white,
glorifying war;
but that didn’t make it right.
Some distance from Saigon
a dusty helicopter pad:
armed men with survival minds;
but that didn’t make them bad.
And man he loved his tobacco
sucking an Italian stem
he shot me through with questioning:
“was it US or was it THEM”?
This boy from California
on a beach near Malibu
still remembers the crying girl
who stumbled without a shoe
and the child without her skin
and a boy without his head
down by the water buffalo’s blood
and all three were dead.
We went camping at Big Sur,
walking the tide line without socks.
He cried on the drive there
and when we rested on the rocks.

Greg Hoover was an Army clerk stationed at MACV Headquarters in Saigon, South Vietnam, in 1969.  From the early summer of 1970 until his return to America in 1971, he was with Advisory Team 95 in Tan Hiep.  His poetry continues to be a reflection of his own experiences and of the many stories other young soldiers would have to share.

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