Lao by Kenn Reagle

She calls me babysan
I am only nineteen years old
I don’t even shave
The skin on my face is soft
Lao giggles when she sees me
She introduces me to her friends
They call me babysan

I see her working in the fields
She offers me her lunch
One small ear of corn
I sit beside her
I eat her corn
What a strange war
At the moment we are winning

Lao points to her friend
Her name, “Minoi!”
“Minoi!” I say
She giggles
They speak
In a language
Incomprehensible to me
Minoi means darling
They call me babysan

I watch the fall of Nha Trang
On television in Lancaster, Ohio
I grieve for Lao and her friends
I won my war
They Called Me Babysan

KENN Reagle IS A FRIEND AND FREQUENT CUSTOMER AT THE COFFEE SHOP WHERE I WORK. HE’S ALSO A POET AND A GREAT CONVERSATIONALIST. HE RECENTLY GAVE ME TWO OF HIS POETRY BOOKS; LAO APPEARS IN NO ONE CALLS ME HERO, A COLLECTION OF POEMS ON HIS VIETNAM WAR EXPERIENCE.

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Psalm 30:2

It takes some strain
to bow to humility
to ask for Help means:
I’ve really reached my
end.

So when I ask, know I’m
Desperate: I’ve run out of
time, excuses, plans.

I called to you –
Oh God! I called.
I asked for help with:
All the pomp & circumstance
of a General in Battle.

Bring your guns, ready
your forces. I’m
puffed up even in
my weakness. The commander of:
My Circumstances.

You were just reinforcements.

But instead,
Oh God! You laid me down
demanded light activity in
the nearest seaside town.

And the unrest, you
promised, would lose its
un-: I’d find the peace of
a Cicada at its end.

And the chaos would be
music and the nagging thoughts
a rhyme. And the world’d still spin around
us both, but we would dance
in time.

Lord, my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. – Psalm 30:2