The Belles of Picardy and more by V. Alarcon Cordoba

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Joaquín doesn’t live here anymore . . .

I

“… he died of the Vietnam War

from drug and alcohol abuse.” — it’s what I tell
whoever still asks about my brother
Joaquín


I remember Joaquín
he used to fill my head with stories
about days he’d spent on furlough
in the summer of ’67
in San Francisco
while recuperating from two broken legs
at Treasure Island Naval Base hospital

he described in foggy detail the Haight-Ashbury
the Fillmore
how he’d watched Eric Burton
who was a regular then
tripping on acid
singing blindfolded
daring himself to not walk off
the edge of the stage

he also introduced me to his Missouri Meerschaum
a yellow corn-cob
with a tortoise-shell colored plastic mouthpiece
and the small bag of Vietnamese
he had smuggled
from his tour of duty in ‘Nam

my thoughts
suddenly
a stream of moving pictures
thoughts
dreamed

I closed my eyes
and in an instant
opened them

the bohemian . . .

… painting the pages

The Belles of Picardy

I

… during
the Vietnam War
I became a conscientious objector

I looked with horror
at photographs of overcrowded cemeteries
with no room left to bury the dead

tombstones lined up shoulder to shoulder
on the landscape of Europe
like soldiers marching to their death

I remember
the photograph
of my father in uniform
bringing to mind that he had indeed
been one of the lucky ones
who had made it back in one piece
from the Pacific Theatre

in my head I heard bells tolling
hammering to the beat of foot marches
an anthem to the dead

and to my brother
who was yet to die the slow death
of Vietnam’s lingering poison

I called it
The Belles of Picardy
an imaginary war march sung by the nymphs
that beckon soldiers

from every cathedral bell tower
in every corner of the world
to the Fields of Flanders
Dunkirk
Da’nang
Iraq
Iran
–hell

coda:
(for years I had watched the dismal gray theater of Eastern Europe
never realizing that what they depicted could one day come true)

the bohemian . . .

… painting the pages

ABOUT V. ALARCON CORDOBA  -VISIT HIS TERRIFIC BLOG  –  the bohemian  @  https://alarconvictor.wordpress.com

I am a writer of poems, short stories and existential fantasies. My writings should be read as lyric paintings—theater of the mind (to borrow a phrase from Eugene O’Neill). They are better viewed as pictures rather than verse—the vivid blue of a Paris street illuminated by a harvest moon and a lovers’ quarrel at 3 o’clock in the morning, or the sunlit yellows of a Kansas wheat field in a rolling epic of the American West.

They are fiction, but filled with the realization that one will eventually wake from the dreams of childhood. But those dreams, though doused, are never fully extinguished. Life is change. Life goes on. Dreams remain forever. Find your dreams.

Have you ever found yourself caught in a trap so subtle you wonder how you ever got there in the first place? Have you ever needed to get out of a situation, but were too enticed by desire to leave? In Flatland – A Modern Southwest Adventure Icarus Dade finds himself in the grip of just such a web of intrigue.

When a railroad accident in the Four Corners region of the New Mexico desert leaves him stranded, Icarus finds life much more complicated than he could have imagined. Follow along as he becomes entangled in a seemingly inescapable net of love, corruption and betrayal in the double-dealing small town justice of Flatland.


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3 responses »

  1. This is a belated thank you for sharing these poems, Ana. You’ve done a wonderful job presenting my work, especially with the photos. They capture the heartbreak of the era beautifully.
    v.a-c

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