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"The Making and Un-making of a Marine"

by Lawrence Winters

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Selected Poetry 

Featured YouTube video:  "Confession"










McNamara Trilogy

Back Home  - Old Men are Bastards 1:18
Cemetery Worker 0:37  - I Never ONCE Lost My Head 1:57
Confession 1:01
 - River of Words 1:08
Escabeto 1:05

Robert McNamara Botfly

Fort Hood 1:38 Now 2:12
General Deip Phu Bai 1:03

Good Night, Sweetheart

Rocket Attack


Independence Day 1995




Nam Brother...

Veterans Day (2007)

I Killed for You (duet) Videos Viet Cong

* Click on a title to see the text of the poem.
** Listen to the author reading some of his works!
Click on the record time to listen (all recordings are MP3 files).
*** Some poetry, read by the author, can be seen as a YouTube on the "Videos" page.

Fort Hood

by Larry Winters

Nidal Malik Hasan

The heart of the head of the helper is where this dark seed collected the momentum to strike out at the innocent unknowing seekers of help in the waiting room of the Fort Hood healing center. To kill out of the fear of being killed, to shoulder the burden no one can agree to carry, to rage at the unexpressed rage. No clearer statement can be made if we observe the action of this man. We will spin as many ideas as there are eyes and ears who see and hear the Fort Hood story. What I read into this is “If you make me kill, or be killed, I will kill as many of you as I can first.” This incident will be put into the box of diagnosis where those clinicians who put it there will hope that it will become safe again. Make the man crazy or religiously fanatical instead of enraged at what he was asked to do. Make him out of his mind in some way so we don’t have to look at every soldier with a fear that they two might be enraged inside for what we are asking them to do. In case you forgot it’s to kill or be killed.

by Larry Winters
November 8, 2009

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Back Home

I want to take my nightmare dreams
of War and stuff them down throats.

Force every nostril open to smell the burning flesh of
napalmed babies.

Hold every eye open to the shocking horror of dead children.

Make every person feel their reflex instinct to kill.

I want to smash and smear the guts of my dreams into
every pour of America.

The America that watches me dance in front of death on TV.

I want my fear to never be forgotten
by plugging in your Ipod.

by Larry Winters
August 8, 2008

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Veterans Day


A day to remember my War.

A day to feel in my heart, Marines I once knew.

A day to pray for lost peace.

A day to remember that I was not welcomed home.

A day to remember my old war prayer

to commit to life with the same intensity that I feared death.


A day to see that many people do not honor veterans.

A day to hear the flag snapping at the wind.

A day for my soul to shed its uniform and stand naked in the mirror.

by Larry Winters
written Veterans Day, November 11, 2007

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Larry first wrote this poem after watching a ticker-tape parade honoring the Vietnam veterans ten years after the end of combat -- "ten years too late."  With the present relevance of that experience he rewrote the poem in 2007.



Now! It's the style, it's the vogue.

Now! Writers are finally writing about blood that's nothing but red dust.

Now! Kids are wearing camouflage to school and packing plastic M-16s

Now! It's the rage to think about him, 'cause the rage in the Vietnam vet is old. Tears and beers have grown cataracts over eyes that once sighted M-60 machines guns.

Now! Step up. It's hip to notice him after forty years down the road.

Now! It's safe to slap him on the back; his metals are still hidden, family broken.

Now! Don't be afraid; he's no longer the baby killer, he long ago slipped into the darkness of the seventies, to cool.

Now! Don't you worry that you gave him a parade ten years too late. You watched him slapping leather down New York City's main drag while he got ticker tape in his gray hair as the media ground one last dry hump out of him.

Now! You can raise your hand and slap a thanks gig on the 58,000 boys who laid down in the Nam. Over 100,000 lay down here at home, and we don't count them, suicide man, our kids know about that.

Now! Let's thank the old vets for selling those hearts and minds so cheap so we could keep what we could keep.

Now! Let's not forget today's young vets who are finding out their lives are just as cheap.

by Larry Winters  May 5, 2007

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If a man kills another man
He must dig two graves
One in the earth for the dead man
One in his heart
for his own spirit
Or he will not return

by Larry Winters

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Rotors spank the air
the green wasp lifts
from the jungle flowers of
In her thorax and abdomen crawl
men with wings on their chests
stamped from cheap
50 calibers rained down on the tree tops
as white flicks of soft light float up from the jungle below.
They rise in silence of engine roar to explode
through her thin green skin.
Tracer rounds dissect the space
exiting, entering, exiting, entering
the soft life within.
Oil flows blood flows.
The green wasp sinks
into the jungle flowers of
Cheap metal wings beat against the chest.
Rotors spank the air.
The green wasp sinks into the
jungle flowers of Vietnam.

Larry Winters 05/27/75 HMH-361

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"For all of you that live here during the Vietnam War"

by Larry Winters

I killed for you.
You may not have asked me to,
but I killed for you.
I didn't ask to go to Vietnam.
I didn't support the war.

Still I killed for you and for me.
I killed for you,
while you paid your taxes.
You watched me kill on TV,
while you were eating cheese burgers.
I killed for you.
While protesting that I was killing for you,
I killed for you.
While you avoiding the draft,
while running off to Canada,
I killed for you.

You waited in the line at the supermarket,
you were out getting drunk,
you got your first good job after college,
you enjoyed free love,
While I was killing for you.
I have carried pain for you.
Guilt for you.
Shame for you.
For all the killing I did for you.
When I came home.
You expected me to heal for you.
To get on with my life for you.
To be productive for you.
To marry you.
To raise children for you.
And most of all to forget for you.

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by Larry Winters

I'm ashamed that I may not have killed anyone in Vietnam.

I'm ashamed that I may have killed someone.

I'm proud that I was Marine.

I'm embarrassed to tell anyone that I was in the Marines.

I grew up believing in God and country.

In Vietnam I lost my belief in God and I distrust anything my country tells me.

Vietnam was the most beautiful country I ever saw: vibrant colors, skies piled with cumulus clouds, beautiful women with silk black hair.

Vietnam was an ugly, blood drenched sweating inferno where women and children were at times weapons themselves.

Vietnam made heroes out of school-boys.

Vietnam made traitors out of scared boys who hated what they were told to do but did it anyway.

I wanted my father to be proud of me for standing up and fighting for my country.

My father never asked me anything about the War when I returned.

I missed my girlfriend and married her as soon as I got home.

I divorced my wife and for years could not father our child.

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Cemetery Worker at Viet Cong Memorial

by Larry Winters

I called to you.
"Come here I have something for you".
You mumbled back.
I called again.
You mumble again.
I wave for you to come.
You looked away and spoke clearly.
"I no come here".
I wanted to give you money.
You who takes care of my enemy's graves.
But you turned away.
Both of us knowing it could never be enough.

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Viet Cong

by Larry Winters

The spirit that I have taken
From your Heart
From your Country
From your Land
From your People
From your Beauty
From your Soul
From your Fathers
From your Mothers
From your Children
I return to You
I am one Man
I have lived with sadness
Holding your spirit prisoner in my Heart
Forgive Me

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General Deip

Voices travel greater distances over water
Starlight in the fish's eye Waits
The mothers tear
Drops into the river
All Vietnam floods

by Larry Winters
October 10, 1994 2:15 AM

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Independence Day 1995


The crisp pull of the winds snaps the flag,

like a muffled short from the tree line.


My fingers search in my lap for the trigger

as they do at night for the bathroom light switch.


Sound is not the only doorway to memory,

dog shit, rotting road kill can jar memorized picture loose.


Car back fire, door slams, fire sirens can

blast a freeway to my heart.


These visions poke and kick it to swell

in my chest until I can't breath.


Knowing this I stay at home this Forth of July.

The bangs and blast of patriots will only

scrape at the scabs of my war wounds.


I'll sit here in my garden,

protected by the trees surrounding the yard.

with only the neighbors flag pulling me back to Nam.


by Larry Winters

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Rocket Attack

Sirens scream.
A card table hangs for an instant in the air
kicked by a retreating player.
The screen door slams and the hooch is empty.
Twelve men scramble in to a would-be grave.
Deep in the guts of the bunker their
bodies pressed into the sandy floor.
Scared men telling jokes.

by Larry Winters


  Website: Copyright © 2006--2008  Larry Winters. All rights reserved.

Poetry:  Copyright © 1975, 1994, 1997, 2001, 2006 , 2007, 2008, 2009 Larry Winters. All rights reserved.

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Last updated:    11.8.9

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