Blessings the Body Gave

Walt McDonald

The Track at Saigon

We jogged slow laps on asphalt
flat as a runway, counting rumors of riots
back home, divorces, nights without rockets.

We tried staying sober in daylight.
hard to worry stripped down to shorts,
gasping, drenched in sunburn and sweat

to keep our bodies hard. We heard
the thud and quiver of a high board
across the fence, a sudden splash,

laughter of French landowners by a pool.
At dawn, while airmen loaded body bags,
we circled a world exploding—

thunder of jets loaded with napalm,
whop whop of choppers lifting wounded
from the front, the nearby boom of bombs.

“McDonald once again looks keenly, as only he can, at all four horizons of his seemingly limitless Texas landscape. Poem by poem we share this poet’s acute sense of place. This is the American West, and McDonald a realist who sites his poems in a moral landscape amid the steers and hawks and barbed-wire fences and Stetsons.” —David Citino  

The moral landscape to which David Citino refers is informed by the experience of war. These poems deal with the loss of Walt McDonald’s father in World War II as well as with his own experiences in Vietnam. They tell of living with the memories of war, of celebrating and coping with the fact of survival, in the context of love of one’s family in a place at once harsh and beautiful.

Walt McDonald is Paul Whitfield Horn Professor of English and the director of Creative Writing at Texas Tech University. Blessings the Body Gave is his seventeenth book. McDonald has won three Western Heritage Awards from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and three Texas Institute of Letters Poetry Prizes.

Sep 1998
96 pp. 5 ½ x 8 ½

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Ohio State University Press/The Journal Award in Poetry

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