Maybe he’s driving the Jeep through the Vietnamese jungle

strewn with tents and men trying to dry their socks

and men trying to get the cigarette to light and

men trying to tune in the radio signal and

men trying to find the words to

write a letter and trying most

of all not to die in that


country, or

maybe he’s just

holding the clipboard for the

general or colonel under the relentless



pushing through

the saturated haze far from

Racine County, far from County Galway, but

either way the story is that my dad would get so sunburned

in the middle of the sixties before the summer of Love, with his


freckled skin

that they put him

in a Jeep and told him to

look busy, so anyway that’s how

being Irish didn’t just save civilization like

Cahill wrote, but how it also maybe saved PFC Madden

from sniper fire or strafing rounds so he could leave behind

the countryside peeled of vegetation like sunburned skin from Agent


and meet

my fair-skinned

Norwegian mom over W2

forms at Walker Manufacturing,

holding ajar the door in the universe, just enough

for my sister and me, and now his fair and sun-screened grandchildren, to


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