Me and the 58,000 and Other Poems

Updated on April 9, 2018
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Me and the 58,000

The date, the date

was ‘68

The party’s started

and I was late


The world divided

by the length of our hair

in ‘68

I was so square


A generation yelled

kill them all

While their children

protested on

the National Mall


Some decided

this is not our war

When the party started

They bolted toward the door

Crossed the border

Americans no more


Thousands protested

carrying signs,

‘Make Love, Not War’

While the war machine

Said, ‘give us your poor’


Reading, Reader’s Digest

watching long hairs protest

How’d we get in

this stink’n mess


Drinking chocolate milk shakes

no idea what is at stake

The party started

and I was late

the date, the date was ‘68


Now with buddies

in the jungle

The news showed it’s not

a West Side Story rumble


Learning how not to stare

All the girls with legs so bare

The boys at home were big flirts

Chasing girls in short skirts


The party started

and I was late

the date, the date was ‘68


The government sent out invitations,

Said, I’d wear green and eat k-rations


Drinking chocolate milk shakes

no idea what is at stake

The party started

and I was late

the date, the date was ‘68


Many boys were crying

And many men were dying

The world divided

by the length of our hair

The party’d started

and I was late

A Homeless Mind


A cat walks across
three stories
Leaving tracks up one arm
and down another
like a vein looking for a heart
like a steel lock looking for
a warm cock crowing on another
empty morning


Sleeping on the sidewalk
at two o’clock
chased from the park
long before dark
a homeless mind
no place to go
nothing to show
a fleeting life like
tracks on the snow

Empty Plates

There comes a day of empty plates

Chairs won't scrape the floor

Pans won't stack, three pots high

No voice will ask for more

...

Potatoes wither on the ground

And the gravy boats will gather dust

There are no biscuits set to rise

And no one cares to make a fuss

...

No need to polish goblets

Or hold them to the light

Or fill them with sweet nectar

For everyone’s delight

...

The clock ticks in the kitchen

For those with uncleaned slates

Call it luck or fate or destiny

There comes a day of empty plates

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Fortunate Son (Lyric Video)

Don McLean - Vincent ( Starry, Starry Night) With Lyrics

Questions & Answers

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      • mckbirdbks profile imageAUTHOR

        mckbirdbks 

        7 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hello Shauna - I am not sure that I write poetry. Some I read is so elegant. Now, I admit to being in the Army in the Vietnam era. I was not in Vietnam. I would have never survived. Thanks for your visit here today.

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 

        7 months ago from Central Florida

        Mike, I didn't know you write poetry. I love the first one, the date, the date was '68. You actually did serve in Nam, didn't you?

      • mckbirdbks profile imageAUTHOR

        mckbirdbks 

        11 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hello Mark Tulin - I appreciate the visit. Thank you.

      • mckbirdbks profile imageAUTHOR

        mckbirdbks 

        11 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hello Verlie - Thanks for stopping by this poetry hub. It seemed like everyone had a bit to contribute, so I thought I would jump in with my two cents worth. Happy April poetry month.

      • Mark Tulin profile image

        Mark Tulin 

        11 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Thanks for taking me on this journey with your Poetry.

      • snakeslane profile image

        Verlie Burroughs 

        11 months ago from Canada

        Oh Man, the party started and I was late, the date, the date, was 2018! Sorry for missing this new poetry page Mike. So happy to find it now. All these great poems, and music. I'm just going to spend a little time here, thank you for sharing especially now, poetry month is exciting.

      • mckbirdbks profile imageAUTHOR

        mckbirdbks 

        11 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hello Audrey - There are sad times in the Nations history, fifty years ago and again now. Thanks for your kind comment.

      • vocalcoach profile image

        Audrey Hunt 

        11 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        Your poetry has me pretty close to tears. I sure remember those days. You've described it all perfectly. Love your choice of music. This hub has left footprints on my heart.

      • mckbirdbks profile imageAUTHOR

        mckbirdbks 

        11 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hello Eric – Thank you. The first one had some depth to it. That war seemed to scar all of us how lived any piece of it.

      • mckbirdbks profile imageAUTHOR

        mckbirdbks 

        11 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hello Genna – Thank you. That Bill, sure has a way with words. Indeed, ..."a collective stain on our souls."

        “… What a field-day for the heat

        A thousand people in the street

        Singing songs and carrying signs

        Mostly say, hooray for our side”

        Happy Sunday

      • mckbirdbks profile imageAUTHOR

        mckbirdbks 

        11 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hello Tom Cornett - Thanks for the comment. It seems each adult today for our generation has their memories of the war. It is our war, we all approached it differently or viewed it from their own particular angle. Hope your brother fared well.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        11 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Awesome reflection prompts. Great read(s). I really liked the first one, way well done.

      • profile image

        Genna East 

        11 months ago

        Wonderful poetry, Mike...it stirs the soul with an honest , uncompromising view of one who was there. Thank you, Mike -- for your service and for your caring. I think Bill Holland said it best when he described Nam as ..."a collective stain on our souls."

      • Tom Cornett profile image

        Tom Cornett 

        11 months ago from Ohio

        Reading your poetry took me back, made me think, made me smile and a little sad. Images flashed in my mind as I read. I was just 18 when the war ended. My oldest brother was there twice. Those were times of turbulence and innocence. Maybe all times are like that in one way or another. Thanks for the sparks of words that took me back to 1968 and beyond.

      • mckbirdbks profile imageAUTHOR

        mckbirdbks 

        11 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hello Bill - For the record I served during the Vietnam war era, but not in country. I served in a garden paradise island of Okinawa. Lots of war coming and going happening on Okinawa. For a while I served in a hospital ambulance unit. Then when I angered an officers wife I was transferred to a unit that rebuilt Deuce and a half and five ton trucks that where blown apart in Vietnam. It was an assembly line where I helped with acquiring all the hardware. Go ahead ask me anything about deuce and a half hardware. haha

      • mckbirdbks profile imageAUTHOR

        mckbirdbks 

        11 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hello Paula – Thanks for the Wow. I am not sure I have mastered anything, but it is nice to hear. All of us here at HP are expressing ourselves, we have found a place where someone will listen. The sixties were indeed a glorious time, the Age of Aquarius as it were. The music, the fashion, the energy a feeling of breaking free from the past. Again, I am a simple soul. Now it is time to walk the dogs.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        11 months ago from Olympia, WA

        A stain on our collective souls, Vietnam....god bless the soldiers who were called upon to fight....in case I've never said it, Mike, thank you for serving over there.

      • mckbirdbks profile imageAUTHOR

        mckbirdbks 

        11 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hello mar – Yes, my poetry is simple. The head on approach. The Me and 58,000 mostly wrote itself. There is plenty more to it. Stanza after stanza presented itself, mostly as I was dozing off to sleep at night. The music I am most familiar with is from the sixties and early seventies, then the world changed. Thanks for the peaceful Sunday wishes.

      • mckbirdbks profile imageAUTHOR

        mckbirdbks 

        11 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hello John – See I learned something. I did not know that Australia drafted men into service to fight in Vietnam. Hope the cousins fared well. Eleven, that makes me feel old. We both watched it on TV.

      • mckbirdbks profile imageAUTHOR

        mckbirdbks 

        11 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hello Nikki Khan – Thanks for the welcome back. I am not feeling much like writing these days. As far as the timing, you are right, I am here and that had something to do with the timing. Things were starting to settle down. I was a year younger than the other kids at graduation and that delay seems to have made the difference.

        There is a homeless crisis and not many good options without government assistance.

      • fpherj48 profile image

        Paula 

        11 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

        WOW, Mike...just Wow. Is there no genre you have not mastered? These poems are awesome~~riveting, ringing the memory bells of '68. Such a glorious time, such a precarious time. I just know I would see your very soul through your eyes and your heart upon your sleeve. Peace & Hugs, Paula

      • marcoujor profile image

        Maria Jordan 

        11 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

        Good morning Mike,

        I read this yesterday and again this morning - your poetry tugs at my heart - simple, authentic and poignant at the same time.

        Perfect musical selections as well. Have a peaceful Sunday. Hugs, mar

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 

        11 months ago from Queensland Australia

        Wonderful poetry, Mike, and your subject matter is perfect. I loved the first and last poems equally. I was late for Vietnam...I was only 11, two of my cousins were conscripted. Well done.

      • nikkikhan10 profile image

        Nikki Khan 

        11 months ago from London

        What a great insight and a way of writing!

        Loved the first one so much, were you late Mike or reached just on time?

        I guess perfectly on time my friend, and welcome back on hubpages :)

        Homelessness poetry was the most painful one, the pain strikes right in centre of heart.

        And a day of empty plates has much to tell us tales untold,

        Every tale of deepest sorrow and hatred!

      • mckbirdbks profile imageAUTHOR

        mckbirdbks 

        11 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hello Shy - Glad your brothers are both OK. I was in the Army. I did not serve in a combat zone. For a while I served with a Medivac group. One of the jobs was to meet flights carrying wounded (all fixed up) to do some recovering prior to their next leg back home. In between that, I drove an ambulance. The Army makes dumb mistakes like that. You write so many poems.

      • Shyron E Shenko profile image

        Shyron E Shenko 

        11 months ago from Texas

        Mike, were you late?

        Were you there in 68?

        Brothers two were there

        To young to fight

        To young to die

        And no long hair

        Maybe that is why they were there

        One on the ground

        One in the air

        One shot up

        And one shot down

        Both came home

        Doing well right now.

        *

        Blessings always my friend

        All your poems are great!!!

      • mckbirdbks profile imageAUTHOR

        mckbirdbks 

        11 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hello Ruby – Each generation seems to have its war. Vietnam was mine and yours. Our generation cannot forget how divided we were – the country was steaming at the injustices, a lot like now. Thanks for being you.

      • always exploring profile image

        Ruby Jean Richert 

        11 months ago from Southern Illinois

        I was happy to see that you had written another meaningful poem. I remember the time so well. A divided America, just like today, only different. I've talked to so many who served our country, it seems they never forget. I loved your look-back and the music brought back memories.

      • mckbirdbks profile imageAUTHOR

        mckbirdbks 

        11 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hello Peg - I watched the Ken Burn's Vietnam War series and it left me with how many different categories the people fell into. I remember my dad saying, kill all the long hairs. Those that went to Canada made a choice that changed their lives forever. There were those that went and fought, there are those that served in relative safety and those that served in complete safety. That is a lot to digest in a poem. There are those that served and are now forgotten.

        Thanks for the welcome home. I served in safety, which carries its own weight.

      • PegCole17 profile image

        Peg Cole 

        11 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

        And what a tale you tell in these rhyming words. Remembering the turmoil as if it was yesterday. Love the cadence and imagery and the use of different fonts in the poems.

        So delighted to see a post from you today. Welcome home soldier.

      • mckbirdbks profile imageAUTHOR

        mckbirdbks 

        11 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        Hello Ann - The first is my favorite also. I am sure I could have continued it, and with patience, (which I have none) it could be polished to be more. I appreciate you.

      • annart profile image

        Ann Carr 

        11 months ago from SW England

        Love your poetry, Mike. The first is my favourite; it has such fitting rhythm and structure for the subject. The others are great too. They all hit home with poignant power.

        Ann

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