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By William Daniel Ehrhart

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A few days after writing this, he decided to enlist in the Marines so that he could fight in Vietnam to defend freedom and his country. By describing in undiluted detail what he actually experienced in Vietnam, Vietnam-Perkasie presents the raw materials from which Ehrhart was to fashion most of his early poems. Like many other Vietnam veteran poets, he developed a strikingly plain style, remarkable for its concision and avoidance of the mannerisms that have made "poetry" seem like a coterie activity.

As she "lay there staring up at me with a look Page xvii of abject, naked, raw terror in her eyes," the narrator confronts a hideous truth about himself: Oh, God almighty, what have I done? Here it was, here it was at last: Pam's eyes were the same eyes I'd seen in a thousand faces in a hundred villages, staring up at me in mute hatred as I towered over her, my whole body still cocked, ready to explode again. And this time there was no rifle, no uniform, no Sergeant Taggart barking orders, no mines, no snipers, no grenade ready to explode, no juggernaut momentum of a vast military bureaucracy out of control and bogged down in human quicksand, not a single excuse with which to defend myself.

My God, it had been a calculated, deliberate attempt to hammer the world by brute force into the shape perceived by vain, duplicitous power brokers. And the depths to which they had sunk, dragging us all down with them, were almost unfathomable. S. government's top-secret history of its war against Vietnam, as the outraged responses of the young man who had mistakenly thought he had lost all his illusions a year earlier. S. S. government's direct connivance in the overthrow of Diem"; "the secret commando raids against North Vietnam"; ''the plans for bombing the north more than a year before they were executed, the power brokers waiting, waiting for the chance, the excuse, some pretext the American people would believe"; "the evidence that the years of negotiations and temporary bombing halts had been no more than public-relations ploys designed to dupe the American people into supporting the ever-increasing escalation of the war" right on through 1971.

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