“What Us Two Veterans Thought We Should Be Doing Every Day”

by Alan Yount

for Dale Palmer, 1950-2018.
VA Medical Center, Columbia, Mo.

you were in the army infantry
in vietnam and thailand.
I was air force.

after we retired
we could go boating
any afternoon
we wanted to.

the missouri river
was a lot quieter
than in the mekong delta:
which seemed as it was
on the far side, from our world.

dale once said,
“things were different
during the war.”

“everyday … I thought
I might not come back.”

after a pause, he said …
“you know me …
I did my best out there:
all I could do.”

as we floated
by a long sandbar …

two large blue herons
lifted up,
in the quiet, of the early dusk.

as we floated by
we could see
where their footprints
were left in the sand.


you said
with a sure feeling:

“today, we should
be out fishing & floating
the missouri river, as we are.”

you said with
another grin & laugh:

“we are doing exactly
what we should be doing
in this moment …
just …right … now!”