Better Maimed than Marxist
(an experiment in so-called "free verse")

At our U.S. Navy advanced tactical support base,
on the banks of a muddy brown river,
not far from the southernmost tip of South Vietnam,
I injured my right middle finger
in a pickup volleyball game one Sunday afternoon.

Our little base infirmary had no X-ray equipment,
So I had to take a helicopter ride north
to a larger Army base possessing
better medical equipment and facilities
to see if I had broken any bones in my hand.

Walking down a hospital corridor, I passed
a room full of Vietnamese patients
who had no arms or legs.
I experienced a disorienting sense of scale compression,
unexpectedly witness to already small lives made minuscule in a moment,

like seeing living dollar bills cut down to the size of postage stamps,
or sentient silver quarters suddenly shrunk to copper pennies.

Michael Murry, "The Misfortune Teller," Copyright © 2012