Hanoi Hannah

Hanoi Hannah

Ray Charles! His voice
Calls from waist-high grass,
& we duck behind gray sandbags.
“Hello, Soul Brothers. Yeah,
Georgia’s also on my mind.”
Flares bloom over the trees.
“Here’s Hannah again.
Let’s see if we can’t
Light her goddamn fuse
This time.” Artillery
Shells carve a white arc
Against dusk. Her voice rises
From a hedgerow on our left.
“It’s Saturday night in the States.
Guess what your woman’s doing tonight.
I think I’ll let Tina Turner
Tell you, you homesick GIs.”
Howitzers buck like a herd
Of horses behind concertina.
“You know you’re dead men,
Don’t you? You’re dead
As King today in Memphis.
Boys, you’re surrounded by
General Tran Do’s division.”
Her k knife-edge song cuts
Deep as a sniper’s bullet.
“Soul Brothers what you dying for?”
We lay down a white-klieg
Trail of tracers, Phantom jets
Fan out over the trees.
Artillery fire zeros in.
Her voice grows flesh
& we can see her falling
Into words, a bleeding flower
No one knows the true name for.
“You’re lousy shots, GIs.”
Her laughter floats up
As though the airways are
Buried under our feet.
© Yusef Komunyakaa. (1993). Neon Vernacular, p. 141.

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