Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Denis Johnson: Viet Nam poem

I have just finished reading Denis Johnson's new novel Tree of Smoke, set in the CIA world of early American involvement in Viet Nam. I won't try to review it, but this poem, from one of the characters in the book, will tell you what you need to know:

Viet Nam

I bought a pair of Ray Bans from the Devil
and a lighter said Tu Do Bar 69
Cold Beer Hot Girl Sorry About That Chief
Man that Zippo got it all across

Man when I'm in my grave don't wanna go to Heaven
Just wanna lie there looking up at Heaven
All I gotta do is see the motherfucker
You don't need to put me in it

Turn the gas on in my cage
I drink the poison
Send me an assassin
I drink the poison
Dead demons in my guts
I drink the poison

I drink the poison
I drink the poison
And I'm still laughin

Denis Johnson, from the novel Tree of Smoke