My father is fresh back from Vietnam.
I see this in a memory I shouldn’t have,
clear somewhere inside me other than
inside my brain, circulating still.
He’s newly returned and by the time
I’m born the scent of that country hasn’t
fully faded from his gear, the olive drab
canvasses still saturated in that soaked-in
smell bordering on rot from so much damp
and stiff drying in another country’s monsoon
rain, sun and air. A scented battle never
diminishing, airiness of something unshaken
from skin or socks or books, or from
a mind and eyes.
Or from the DNA. Things
can be passed on headlines tell us now,
traumas, fears, horrors, addictions,
nightmares, and anything else stamped into
the makeup of a son or daughter, his offspring,
then their offspring, feeding the blood
branches on down the line, tested, tried
by gunfire and brimstone and mortars
on another’s wide field of mines for us,
stepped lightly, prodded the soil with toes
in the storm of metal, unhurried, trying
not to pump to much battle-grief into
bloodstreams of what they may be responsible
for having wrought into the world.

Larry Thacker

Larry D. Thacker is an Appalachian writer and artist. His poetry can be found in past issues of The Still JournalKudzu Literary MagazineThe Southern Poetry AnthologyVolume VI: TennesseeUnbroken JournalMojave River ReviewBroad River ReviewHarpoon ReviewPine Mountain Sand & GravelDead Mule School of Southern Literature, and Appalachian Heritage, among others. He is the author of Mountain Mysteries: The Mystic Traditions of Appalachia and the poetry chapbooks, Voice Hunting and Memory Train. A student services higher education professional for 15 years, he is now engaged full-time in his poetry MFA from West Virginia Wesleyan College.