Bette, born on an army base in Salt Lake City, Utah, is mom of two children, Robin 37 and Danny 18. She has been writing for six years and “has come a long way from knowing nothing to, I think, writing that speaks to its reader.” More of Bette’s Writings are available on her website, “Quotations Poetry”
I think of home, my children, my wife.
My steps take a stumbling, staggering shove into an eight foot hole; a rotten green stench crawls up my leg; vomit feasting centipedes dance around my swollen feet. And I think of the fortune cookie handed over when I left for the game of reality. “Stay tough” the message read. I hear teasing chopper blades, a shaft of blue through a slit in the bamboo. Too many days and years I've been caged. I've forgotten the date, even my age.
There’s days of rat pellet rice, and days of black tea salted for spite. The hellish heat colors my skin gray; the peeling flakes feed jungle ants till their bellies swell.
These snake eyed captors expect me to convert, to lie and grow a long nose; I'm not Pinocchio! And, Hanoi Jane came grinning and, growing a long nose – her ears big as elephants, listening to their distorted philosophies.
The cold spreads a numbing chill. My body curls up in a fetal fold; those ants begin to look good if only the earthen mud was chocolate. Stale crackers take on the scent of steaks in a moment of starving hallucination.
And these years in isolation have driven me to madness. Tree roots knotted into prayer beads; I mold a pillow out of raw clay patting it smooth, laying down my thoughts exhausted. God give me strength – give me a sign to “stay tough." Give me honor, my dignity, give me a truth.
Talk to me God,
let me live
to be free-
©Copyright January 2003 by Bette Mioduski
Author’s Note: This poem is in honor of James Thompson. His story and life as a soldier prompted me to poetically express how it was for him as a P.O.W. Colonel Floyd James Thompson, a man of undying will, was the longest held P.O.W. - nine years - five of those in solitary confinement. In October 1974 South Vietnam was the first to honor James Thompson’s service and sacrifice with the country’s highest honor, the Vietnam Military Merit Medal, the Vietnamese equivalent to the United States Medal of Honor. A hero indeed! Sadly, Colonel Thompson died on July 16, 2002 aged 69.