Midweek Poetry. Vung Tau Nights.

Originally known as Cap Saint Jacques under French rule, Vung Tau was the base for the Australian Task Force Headquarters in Phouc Tuy province. South Vietnam.  It was also used by both American and Australian troops as a ‘rest centre,’ I can assure you very little resting went on. The ao dai mentioned in the poem is a formal attire worn by Vietnamese women. Creedence of course refers to Creedence Clearwater Revival, listen to the You Tube link while reading this poem. A stall near one of the bars played Credence quite LOUD on its 8 track stereo. I took this picture in one of the bars, thought it looked very arty at the time with the bar girl’s reflection in the mirror.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=EbI0cMyyw_M

VIETNAM1

Vung Tau Nights.

Bar girls lounging,

street kids scrounging.

Creedence blaring,

troops uncaring. 

Heady smells of local dishes,

women walk past, ao dai swishes.

Sitting alone someone wishes

for tenderness and loving kisses. 

And all you’ll get

is something wet.

From a woman that’s let.

Overused.

Abused.

I’m confused. 

Why am I here,

war, sex, beer?

Fear.

Is it right?

Hot Vung Tau night. 

Soldiers swaggering,

staggering

from bar to bar,

too far

for some.

‘Pay me soldier, me make you come.’ 

Woman of doubtful freshness

promises of tenderness.

In a dim lit room undress.

Watch her nakedness. 

Feigned love

from a soiled Dove.

Fit inside, like hand in glove,

then shove. 

Instant excitement

over in a moment.

Wash off her cloying scent

then money, an argument. 

Back outside its drinks all round.

Manhood has been found.

To her – I’m not bound.

Then, overhead, that sound. 

Helicopters are flying.

Somewhere, someone’s dying.

Drinking, laughing, lying

we sit knowing.

Tomorrow there’s war.

Laurie Smith © 2013

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4 thoughts on “Midweek Poetry. Vung Tau Nights.

  1. Raani York

    Hmmmm…. Laurie, this poem is confusing… I mean… I think I know what you want to say… but I’m kind of deeply impressed… but in some “fearful” way… is that what you wanted?
    It IS a great poem, and I re-published it all over the place. You ARE great!! It’s just my personal feeling and emotion!

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    1. laurie27wsmith Post author

      Spot on Raani, the effect I wanted was to show the reader, through the eyes of a young soldier the confusion, delights, disappointments and tawdriness of a garrison town in times of war. The degrading and sometimes erotic delights that stay with you. Especially when it is remembered through a drunken haze. Poems like this sometimes speak on different levels (think Sylvia Plath) other times they are what they are. Thanks so much for reading and sharing. Cheers, Laurie.

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