When Eagles Vie with Valkyries
~92 pages, $15 (+ shipping)
Projected Release Date: March/April, 2024
An Advance Sale Discount price of $9 (+ shipping) is available HERE prior to press time. This price is not available anywhere else or by check. The check price is $13/book (which includes shipping & sales tax) and should be sent to: Main Street Rag, PO BOX 690100, Charlotte, NC 28227-7001.
PLEASE NOTE: Ordering in advance of the release date entitles the buyer to a discount. It does not mean the book will ship before the date posted above and the price only applies to copies ordered through the Main Street Rag Online Bookstore.
My beautiful picture
Paul Hellweg is a full-time freelance writer who has published twelve books and several hundred other works, including more than 250 poems. His first book of poetry, Ode to a Drunken Muse, was published by Alien Buddha Press in 2019. He served in Vietnam from May 1968 to April 1969, first with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, later as an advisor to a Vietnamese Regional Forces/Popular Forces platoon. His decorations include two Bronze Stars and the Purple Heart. For more, please see his websites: www.PaulHellweg.com and www.VietnamWarPoetry.com
Paul Hellweg’s collection is a profoundly moving testimonial to the losses, voice and spirit of one generation’s war, but, more importantly, to one man’s courage and healing from that war—his “dying back into life.” It is one of the best collections from that conflict I have read, and my favorite poems in it are often sad and very painful and yet transcendent by their very beauty, as the best poetry always is. ~Bruce McAllister, author of Dream Baby
Wars, as we continue to forget, do not end when the last shot is fired. The hostile nations, winners and losers, are changed forever as soldiers come back altered, damaged, or not at all. Their families are changed forever. In ancient China, generals returning home with their armies re-entered the capital through a so-called Gate of Mourning. This was true whether the campaign had been a success or a defeat. In his fine book of poems, Vietnam veteran, Paul Hellweg, guides us through a gate of remembrance and understanding. ~John Balaban, author of Remembering Heaven’s Face and Passing through a Gate
Prey for War
To endure war is
only meaningful if
you come out alive,
not too badly damaged,
and with something
at the other end.
But to endure
simply to endure until
there is nothing left to lose
remains the unlucky fate
of millions, and
there will never be peace
as long as those squandered souls
fail to haunt our dreams.
Indian Country, first night out
imagination on fast forward,
Viet Cong behind every tree,
landmine beneath each footfall.
Late night coffee, taste of fear
meeting with fellow officers.
The radio crackles,
nearby outpost under attack,
Your captain, master of cliché,
warns this will be no picnic.
You’re armored calvary, you rule the road
but Mr. Charles owns the night.
Diesels revving full bore, blue smoke belching,
twenty-five green dragons thunder down the road
first waking, then challenging
all the demons of hell.
You arrive too late, fight’s over
laager up and bunker down,
no rest for the fearful,
no sleep for the new guy.
Cloudy night, no stars overhead,
you maintain light discipline,
not a single photon to relieve eyestrain.
By dawn’s early light, no rocket’s red glare,
you thank God and the universe
the Viets never renewed their attack.
You blink. You look. You see the first body
a few feet away, three more just beyond.
Black-clad enemy soldiers,
kids, all kids,
the oldest maybe thirteen.
Four dead children within ten feet of you.
Too young, you think, to have known love
or life or hopes or dreams, old enough
to know pain and horror and machine-gun fire.
Your platoon sergeant walks the field,
reports counting thirty-two enemy dead.
you want to ask their ages. You do not.
First day in the field and
emotional numbing has begun.
Ambush on the Street Without Joy
Ambushed late Friday afternoon,
lying in a roadside ditch
taking a head count, two missing,
wounded and exposed above.
Your medic volunteers to go with you,
you shout for covering fire.
Like two lovers hand-in-hand
on a sunny beach, you leap up, and
the world’s secrets unfold before your eyes.
You place your trust in a random universe
as AK rounds whisper sweet words of seduction,
offering the promise of all eternity,
free of pain, free of fear.
Ambush on the Street Without Joy
Your medic goes with you
to save the wounded.
Every step forward, every breath you take,
your hearts pump and your blood rushes,
every last red cell, white cell, platelet,
blood that wants to stay where it is, inside you,
and it doesn’t give a good fuck or a goddamn
about what might grow here
were it to fertilize this unholy ground.