A Glimpse Inside Iron’s Keeping: A Story In Poems By A Vietnam Veteran

I’m pleased to offer a glimpse inside my new ebook, Iron’s Keeping, which tells the story — in poems — of my experience as a former U.S. Naval officer serving in Vietnam. It’s free to download for my newsletter subscribers.

The ebook contains 13 poems first published, beautifully, in a private letterpress edition by Carol Blinn at Warwick Press in 1989 entitled The War Zone. In the decades following the experience in the poems, they were written and rewritten as I was learning how to write a poem and make a first book. The War Zone remains, so far as I know, the only published collection of poems about the Naval experience in the Vietnam war.

I’ve included the opening poem, “Departure,” below:

The catenary in the line goes taut,
 lets go. Attended by tugs, backing slow
 our destroyer disengages

from the certainty of piers.

The lean no-nonsense hull

passes Leo’s Last Stop,

the support of tenders, the waiting

that informs ships not at sea.

The last of the channel buoys slides by,

then the War College on its point:

Red Right Return

Above the naval base a nimbus,

nacre and pink as the inner ear

of nautilus or conch, wells in the air.

I am exploring here the theme of departure, of transition, in the context of leaving the safety of familiar shores for a world as broad as the earth’s oceans. It’s a poem that sets the rest of the book into motion — disengaged from the certainty of piers.

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