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Punky

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Below is the poem entitled Punky which was written by poet jeff eklund. Please feel free to comment on this poem. However, please remember, PoetrySoup is a place of encouragement and growth.

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Punky

It’s haunted me lately and I don’t know why. He died over forty years ago and I 
really didn’t know him. He was nineteen and I was sixteen; I went to see him when 
they laid him out. If memory serves me well – it fails more often now than serves – it 
took about three weeks to get the body back from Viet Nam. He was the first dead 
person I would ever view; it would never get worse, so far at least. We went in and 
Punky was the lone sentinel, keeping watch over nothing, the same reason he died. 
He was a paratrooper and there were a lot of stories about how he died. The story I 
remember was that he died on his first jump into the teeth of the enemy. That’s bad 
luck no doubt. I looked at this clay figure as it lay there, dressed up like a soldier, 
G.I. Joe, and if he were breathing, he would be standing at attention. First jump; 
bummer. I got lost in the scene that day; gazing at him and wondering what he felt, 
what he did, what was his last thought. Did he hear the bullets? Did he hear the 
bullet? Did he cry or did he curse? Did he just die? Did it take a while or was he gone 
in a blink? Why is he keeping me awake at night forty years later? Is it because I 
forgot his last name and had to look it up? I wasn’t close to him but I forgot his last 
name; not cool. I remember staring at him and thinking, What would I do if he 
opened his eyes right now? He didn’t, he never will again, he’s dead. He was in a 
casket in his full uniform, and he was under glass. People said he was caving in the 
night before and they asked people to leave until they covered the casket with glass 
so he wouldn’t cave in. It reminded me of gazing at an exhibit at a museum, you 
know, under glass and all. I don’t know if it reminded me of a mummy or a cafeteria 
line with a glass in front of the feature dish, but it did. I can still picture him and his 
hair was like that doll hair they used to use, all stiff and fake-looking, maybe it was. 
And he had make-up on because he was turning weird colors, maybe black or 
purple, it took a long time to get him back. I remembered thinking, why did they 
leave the casket open? Maybe they thought we would want to see him one more 
time. Maybe they thought if we saw him, we would go join the Army and die for our 
country; we didn’t, I joined the Navy and got high in Rhode Island for about three 
years. Viet Nam wasn’t my country anyway.

02/27/2011

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  1. Date: 3/9/2011 8:54:00 AM
    Very vivid and powerful, Jeff. Many congrat's on your WIN. Lainie

  1. Date: 3/7/2011 11:46:00 PM
    jeff, in THIS type of poem, I really enjoyed the stream of consciousness type of writing you did here. VERY nice. Congratulations. YOu really had something important to say.

  1. Date: 3/7/2011 12:11:00 PM
    Congratulations on your winning poem in John Heck's "Hey...Mr. Editor" contest Jeff. Love, Carol

  1. Date: 3/7/2011 4:57:00 AM
    You got me gripped from the first line alone, all the way to the end-- what a very honest write this is, Jeff! Super congrats on your win with this stirring piece!

  1. Date: 3/6/2011 10:04:00 PM
    Jeff, how neat is it that this poem made it into the winner's circle! I was amazed and touched the first time I read this one. Congratulations!~Chris

  1. Date: 3/6/2011 6:02:00 PM
    Great to see you near the top Jeff, beautiful job. Congratulations on your worthy fourth place honor. Agape, Moses

  1. Date: 3/6/2011 3:14:00 PM
    This is really outstanding work, Jeff. Congratulations! Love, Carolyn

  1. Date: 3/6/2011 3:07:00 PM
    This gripping story feels so horribly familiar....I saw my youngest cousin laid out at the age of 20, dressed in uniform, a victim in his first weeks of tour in Viet Nam, ....I have seen the Viet Nam Memorial....with his name....but the image that has played over in my mind, is still the one of seeing his face just as you described in this gripping poem. This one really hit home. Excellent writing, Jeff.

  1. Date: 3/6/2011 2:53:00 PM
    Congratulations on your very fine win in John's Contest, Jeff. Annalise

  1. Date: 3/6/2011 1:41:00 PM
    Hard to decide to service in this way or not, for me it would always be NOT, serve yes, serve death NO WAY Jose! To bad you couldn't hand this out, outside recruiting stations [sigh] good write useless death. COngrad's [wish the memory would let go of you, hope it will now!] Light & Love

  1. Date: 3/6/2011 12:45:00 PM
    Super congrats Jeff on your awesome win in John's contest.. amazing entry luv.. enjoy your top ten victory with luv..

  1. Date: 3/2/2011 7:52:00 AM
    Interesting thoughts penned..I felt the pain of the family and close friends..I felt that he wanted to live but was snuffed out unnecessarily...Enjoyed your work ...Sara

  1. Date: 2/27/2011 9:22:00 PM
    What a compelling read here! And the ending was a real slap in the face of truth....wasn't our country anyway~Chris

  1. Date: 2/27/2011 6:56:00 PM
    I enjoyed this fine narrative write on Punky, jeff