Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Denis Johnson: Viet Nam poem

I have just finished reading Denis Johnson's new novel Tree of Smoke, set in the CIA world of early American involvement in Viet Nam. I won't try to review it, but this poem, from one of the characters in the book, will tell you what you need to know:

Viet Nam

I bought a pair of Ray Bans from the Devil
and a lighter said Tu Do Bar 69
Cold Beer Hot Girl Sorry About That Chief
Man that Zippo got it all across

Man when I'm in my grave don't wanna go to Heaven
Just wanna lie there looking up at Heaven
All I gotta do is see the motherfucker
You don't need to put me in it

Turn the gas on in my cage
I drink the poison
Send me an assassin
I drink the poison
Dead demons in my guts
I drink the poison

I drink the poison
I drink the poison
And I'm still laughin

Denis Johnson, from the novel Tree of Smoke

5 Comments:

Blogger Mary Ellen said...

It is understood that swears are poor and unimaginative adjectives, used by the lazy minded and the ignorant. This is true, but it is also true that swears are vehicles that can carry multiple meanings in a way difficult for most other words. They can be said in exultation, in despair, in anger, affectionately and hurtfully. One swear can substitute for 10 words.
I think I'll start using motherfucker more often!

6:23 AM  
Blogger Tom Fallon said...

I know just what the fuck you're talkin' about, Mary Ellen, having usually cursed in anger for many years rather than kiss the ass of corporate sleeze. Shit off the street is of higher ethical and intellectual value. Now, George Bush...

6:43 AM  
Blogger desiree.cousteau said...

"Sorry About That Chief." From Get Smart! TV show featuring that h*lf-*ssed m*f* Maxwell Smart probably. The wind would be taken right out of your sails during the watching of it unless you were on heroin or something.

12:51 PM  
Blogger denis said...

in some ways i like the image of just lying there looking up @ heaven-- i've been told that only born-again christians are up there, so it would be totally boring, but then again, the thought of just lying there with a zippo lighter (lost mine in 'nam decades ago, quit smoking, too) for eternity sounds rather unexciting, too--

6:14 AM  
Blogger ARAM said...

The title is "Vietnam" not "Viet Nam"--although both are cool.

8:08 PM  

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