A Dog Begins to Bark

War is hell, and the Vietnam war was a different kind of hell for the men–some of them still boys–who went there. This is another poem about that war, inspired by Tim O’Brien‘s book If I Die in a Combat Zone. Thank you to all Vietnam veterans! We appreciate your service and sacrifice.

A Dog Begins to Bark

In the purest black of night

No stars, no moon, no city lights

Ambush is all but certain


Jogging from foxhole to foxhole

Grenades clumping at our belts

Then lying on our backs to wait


Hating the waiting, the wondering

Will we live or die

Not wanting to die in the dark


Moving again, making too much noise Vietnam at night

Down a winding dirt road

A dog begins to bark


Voices speak urgently

From inside shadowy huts

As we move quickly past them


Moving in single file

Reaching to touch the soldier ahead

Fearing being lost and alone in this place


Zigzagging through graveyards

Dead enemies under piles of wet dirt

The man behind me emits a muffled sob


Trying to think of other things

The grouchy neighbor back home

Somebody shut that damn dog up


Copyright © 2013 C Mashburn

Picture courtesy of Google Images

Sharing this on dVerse Poets Pub’s Open Link Night #82 this afternoon. This is the second in my Vietnam series. The first one is called “Guard Duty” <— click on the title to read it.


  1. Susan said

    Felt it…Well done! Thoughts of home must have been their “lifeline”.

  2. Sherry Mashburn said

    An emotional write of a horrific time . . . well done!

  3. disastress said

    fascinated by war. and the mind of those who went.

    • I’m not so much fascinated by it, but I am impressed with how Tim O’Brien writes about it.
      Thanks for the visit and comment!

  4. ayala said

    A strong write!

  5. I was right there with you.

  6. dang man….what an underlying intensity to this…staying alive by staying together….following the line…trying to think of a safer place…and minding every detail to get back there…all too real from a soldiers perspective man…

  7. zongrik said

    some great images here, like zig-zagging through the grave yards.

    epideictic rhetoric

  8. Amazing you captured this so well. I use to listen to stores from my Father about the fox holes and how it was inside of them. I can picture this so well in your piece. http://gatelesspassage.com/2013/02/02/reflections/

  9. WoW. Intense. Terrifying and well written. I didn’t want to continue reading but was unable to stop. WoW.

  10. rmp said

    you paint quite a vivid picture. really well done!

  11. Charles, so emotional…I could feel it! I would like to feature this on Awakenings. I can’t reblog because it is blogspot. Okay if I post with you as the author and a link back to your site?

    Here is the link to Awakenings. Don’t remember if you have visited that site. http://awakenings2012.blogspot.com/

    • Absolutely! Thank you!

      • I was hoping you would say yes. I have already been working on it 🙂 BTW Since I linked to you and your blog I also linked to your book. In doing so, I did some perusing…I am ordering your book! I have been looking for something as daily guidance and now my search is over. I really don’t know why I had not investigated your book before now since I gather so much inspiration from your blog. The Lord works in mysterious ways! Now is the time!

        If there is anything else you might like to add to the post, just send it to poetrybysharla@gmail.com and I will include it. My goal is to get it up Saturday.

      • I’ll leave it to you, SHarla. I’ll take a look in a bit and see what you’ve done with it. Thanks for everything!

    • It is not live yet. BTW is this you? Charles Mashburn
      Independent Writing and Editing Professional
      College Station, Texas
      Writing and Editing

      I found this on LinkedIn and will link it to your name if that is the correct information.

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