My name is Lynda Dokken and I am a disabled (service-connected) Marine Corp veteran who served (state-side) 1966-67. I lost a dear friend in Vietnam by the name of Paul Cochran from Philomath, Oregon. I am not sure what year he died but know that he left a great impression on me. I would like to submit several poems that were included in an art show that I was honored to be in called "The Images of Vietnam". I was the only woman and only non-combat person in the show of 17 people picked statewide. The show ran two months at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon in February/March 1989. Here are the poems that I wrote:

That Was Hard Enough

In the dark humid forest,
I swore,
I would never love
or believe again,
the day my soul
lay shattered,
next to the stillness,
of my best friend.
That was hard enough.
Feeling heartsick and fragile,
I came home to face,
the unjust spit and venom
and foul words of hate;
until bitterness
and disbelief,
became my pilgrimage,
and anger and mistrust
my way of life.
You ask me why I find
it hard to trust,
even after all these years;
because I am haunted more
by the memories of hate,
I am by the distant drums
of a distant war.

linda arneson dokken

Etched In Stone

I cried when I saw them
and thought, "oh God, not you";
then they told me you had died
in the jungles of Vietnam,
trying to save people,
and that was so like you.
I remember your deep compassion,
and how you use to dream
of wanting freedom for everyone
and a more peaceful world;
and how it became shattered
in a war no one wants to remember.
Al that remains with me now
is your warm and gentle memory,
making it harder for me
to reach out to touch
the coldness of your name,
etched in stone.

linda arneson dokken

No One Ever Told Me

No one ever told me
your lonely silence
of a war screaming blood,
would drive us deeper
into haunted memories
of a humid forest.
No one ever told me
the unconscious rage
lingering in fearful eyes,
would cause us to explode,
to drift apart with empty faces
viewing shattered images.
No one ever told me,
that it would all end
and you and I would lie,
to the echoing sound
of a distant spade.
No one ever told me.

linda arneson dokken

Not Your Enemy

I wish,
I had known
how to deal with
your empty eyes,
your unspoken pain,
and your forbidding silence.
I wish,
I would have known,
how to draw you out,
to talk to you,
to listen to what you
needed to say.
I wish,
I would have known,
how to stay with you
over all the years;
to let you know
that I really loved you.
I wish,
more than anything,
I would have known
how to convince you
that I was not
your enemy.

linda arneson dokken

Lynda Arneson Dokken
Montana Veteran