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Agent Orange



Living on borrowed time.
Always wondering,
How many days left...
Are mine.

I'm a dead man walking.
A living corpse as cold as the grave.
Got blood thinners and nitro tabs
To make my heart behave.

It's no big thing.
Just my dumb luck.
Thought I'd signed on for adventure.
Not rice paddy muck.

I think of things
I've done in my life.
Nothing can match
The Vietnam stuff.

Keep being reminded
At Veterans Day each year,
Of all the firefights and struggles,
All the fear.

My eyes were wide open.
Was young as could be.
Saw so many bodies,
Lifeless, yet free.

Free of their troubles.
Their stress was all gone.
A green body bag.
Now, nothing can go wrong.

I helped so many.
Only to see them die alone.
Now, I remember their faces.
Won't leave me alone.

The Government knew
About the effects of Agent Orange.
And I...like so many others.
Will die very soon.

About this poem

I'm a Vietnam Veteran. I served with the 101st Airborne Division from Nov. 1967-Nov. 1968 as a combat medic. Two years ago I was diagnosed with low ejection fraction (EF), a disease of the heart muscle as a direct result of my exposure to Agent Orange (a herbicide and defoliant chemical) used by our military during the Vietnam War. I took my diagnosis as a death sentence as low ejection fraction is five to seven years. This poem is a reflection of how I feel about it.

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Written on November 11, 2021

Submitted by larrymize on April 08, 2022

1:00 min read
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Lawerence E. Mize

Lawerence E. Mize was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1949. At the age of seventeen he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served as a medical corpsman with the 101st Airborne Division. A month after his eighteenth birthday he began his one year tour of duty in the Republic of Vietnam. He served with the "Screaming Eagles," of the 101st Airborne Division as a combat medic with A Company of the 2/501st Airmobile Division. On completing his military obligation he returned home to Baltimore and joined the Baltimore City Police Department at the age of twenty-one. Mize went on to serve with the Baltimore City Police Department for the next twenty-nine years retiring as a Sergeant in 1999. Mize then went on to become a District Court Bailiff in 2003. He left that position in 2018 and now likes to spend his time riding his bicycle, writing poems, and traveling with his wife Sandy whom he has been married to for the last forty-eight years. They have two sons, Lawerence Jr. and Nicholas. Mize has self-published six books of poetry since 1997, to include two works about his experiences in Vietnam, "Tortured Soul and Dead Men Calling, (both published by American Literary Press, Inc. Baltimore, Maryland), both of which helped Lawerence deal with the painful memories of Vietnam; a book of poems he dedicated to his wife, Sandy, titled "Thoughts of You," (Tate Publishing & Enterprises, Mustang, Oklahoma); a book of poems about life and dying titled "Reflections," (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, North Charleston, SC); a collection of poems about Mize's life growing up in Baltimore, his experiences in Vietnam, and speak to the riot and looting in Baltimore in 2015 and the aftermath with all its violence in the city since titled, "My Long Journey In Baltimore," (Dorrance Publishing Co. Pittsburgh, PA); and his latest work in 2021 titled "Baltimore...A City Besieged," in which Mize takes us on a poetic tour of Baltimore and provides us with a chilling account of what life is like for Baltimore's residents with over 300 homicides in the last six years. more…

All Lawerence E. Mize poems | Lawerence E. Mize Books

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    "Agent Orange" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 18 Aug. 2022. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/124038/agent-orange>.

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