Dayl Wise

Pop Smoke

Cherry red,
spilling out of the canister,
bleeding away from the high grass,
spreading out to be seen from above.

In the distance, chopper noise
to the west, up wind.
The "wop-wop-wop" approaching,
like a swarm of dragonflies,
banking, nose up,
as if to smell our scent;
aromatic cherry red smoke.

We're here below you.
Can you see us?
I can see you all!
Gunner striking a pose,
pig on the ready.

If we, who hunt other men,
the full timers on the ground
are the Alpha males,
then you must be the inverse;
our feminine air brothers,
coming and calling to punish,
or bring us safety.

Are you here to bring life or death?
We're tired and want to go home.
We choose life.
Mother take us home.
Cradle us in your arms.
Let us suckle on your breast.

We have been very bad.

Vietnam Revisited

Central Highlands, 1997
Bringing medical supplies to a hospital in Ha Tan.

A man my age lies on a cot,
his brown back exposed to the wall.
Leg wounds a week old ooze.
A 30 year old mine went off, I'm told,
he was gathering wood.

I'm asked to take his picture.
He turns with narrowed eyes,
I aim,
hate fills the lens.
I close my eyes and shoot.

Found Photograph

Black and white photograph,
Dad in foreground,
Army dress uniform,
a pose I'm familiar with,
hands at side, slightly forward,
proud pose, shoulders back.
A found photograph
from your foot locker
loose among others,
taken in France many years ago.
The part of you I don't know.

On a street, maybe Paris,
a theater in the background,
people, well dressed, walking by.
Some appear to enter.
A soldier, near theater door
stares up street at someone or something.
A woman to your left,
clutching a pocket book, hurries past,
not aware her image is before me.
It's daytime.
Did you go to the matinee
with your friend or that girl?

28 years after your death,
who took this picture?
A soldier from your unit?
A grease monkey like you,
Midwesterner, tall, blond?
A French woman
Petite, red lipstick,
Silk stockings,
the ones with dark seams
running up the back?

Walking my dog while at war
         For Molly

Saw you at the pound
that first time,
ears down,
picked on by others,
bite marked belly.
Knew you were the one.

A hunter,
killed a rat
that first winter
in the Bronx.
A chicken three years later
in Ulster County.
Alison left
forty dollars in
their mailbox.

Late at night,
everyone asleep
opening up that box
writing of decade's-old demons.
By my side,
looking up
your boxer, pit bull
block headed face,
your worried look.

In a war many years ago,
another world, life...
men, teenage killers
looked up at me with that same look.
Did love me as a hunter,
top dog, squad leader?

We ate, eat,
drink, piss and shit.
We guard, protect and aid.
We track, patrol,
alert, pounce, attack and kill.

OK ...I'm back, girl.
Get the leash.
Lets close this box,
go out and smell those sweet
Pelham Parkway smells
we both have learned to love.

About the Author

Dayl Wise has worked as a paperboy, caddy, draftsperson, engineer and teacher. He is an active member of Veterans for Peace. He is one of the speakers of NY Veterans Speak Out, a group of veterans who talk to high school students about the experience of war.

He lives part time in the Bronx and Woodstock, New York with his wife, Alison a poet and teacher; Molly, a Labrador-pit bull mix and six, a calico cat with a bad leg.

He self published a chap book, The Best of Post Traumatic Press 2000, a collection of poems by veterans, and authored Poems and other stuff (Post Traumatic Press).

In 2007, Dayl edited and published Post Traumatic Press 2007. This book tells the stories of veterans with direct experience of the military. The book includes writings of veterans from World War II, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, peace time and the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He is currently working on a web site that contains selected poems, short stories and visual art by men and women; veterans, non-veterans and family members of veterans with direct experience of war. mailto:

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