On a clear moonless night
Vietnamís darkness turns
into a glimmering skyscape
made more dazzling
without neon signs, without streetlights.
Tolbert lies down next to me
in the silence surrounding us, asks if
Iíve ever seen this many stars before.
Preoccupied with fireflies signaling one another
among constellations I almost touch.
I donít answer.
They blink on and off
like Christmas lights strung out
across the crowded sky, and still I canít figure out
how two V.C. emptied their clips at me
on the banks of the Ban Khe
and completely missed; why Madison, a big
quiet kid from Milwaukee, drowned
going for a swim in that same muddy river.
I watch the bio-luminescence above,
hoping the stars can answer why
one man lives and another dies.