Incoming (Volume 1, Issue III), by Vietnam veterans, edited by Barbara M. Whitemarsh, Hawks Nest Publishing, R.R. 1, Box 204, Aurora, MO 65605, $10.
Published “as a labor of love” by Barbara M. Whitemarsh and her husband, Vietnam veteran Edward C. Whitemarsh, Incoming is devoted to “poems, short stories, photos and art by Vietnam veterans.” Poems can say things in a few lines that it would take a chapter of prose to explain. An example is the opening poem of this third issue, “God’s Report Card,” by Army veteran Vincent T. Kaspar, which describes a visit to the Vietnam War Memorial. “There are 3 Kissingers on the Wall, 5 McNamaras on the Wall, 10 Nixons on the Wall, 521 Johnsons on the Wall. And damn it!–those were all the right names, But all the wrong people….” And Army veteran Joseph Michael Mishler’s “Deserter” is a powerful indictment of Defense Secretary Robert McNamara’s recent apologia: “Said the bombing wasn’t working, but bombed even more/Said we couldn’t win, but sent us anyway….”
Most of the poems and short stories strike a responsive chord for the reader, evoking memories of terrible scenes long suppressed. For infantrymen in every war, corpsmen and combat medics are the battlefield’s true heroes. Marine veteran Stuart K. Polzin’s “Extreme Sport” tells “of this corpsman/who thought he could run fifty yards through intense machine gun fire/ to reach Woody, our pointman,/who’d already left for the showers,/ but the doc didn’t know that/ until he joined him/about ten yards short of the goal….”
“There is no real epilogue to the Vietnam War,” the editors say in their conclusion. “The story is unending.”
James H. Gaul