you look up and who’s there? dave cline.

The high ones die, die. They die. You look up and who’s there?
—Easy, easy, Mr Bones. I is on your side.
I smell your grief.
—I sent my grief away. I cannot care
forever. With them all align & again I died
and cried, and I have to live.

Last year, when Hugh Thompson died – the hero of My Lai, who swooped down with his helicopter and stopped that particular bleeding – I wailed to my partner, “But I didn’t interview him yet!” Not that I yet had any realistic expectation of doing so.

But David Cline I did. I’d met him a dozen or so times,  the former president of Veterans for Peace, whose famous journey — from the killing fields of Vietnam to the GI antiwar movement to the fight for Agent Orange survivors — was made briefly famous by his friend David Zeiger’s great film. Cline loved the idea of my book, and he and I had countless canceled interview dates, often shoved aside by events in Fayetteville or Washington. I always thought there would be time, and looked forward to seeing him at the Rutgers conference on veterans in two weeks. He was only sixty, after all. Also brilliant and passionate and down to earth.

Silly me, silly us. There is no time, and Cline knew that better than anyone. I can’t hope to match the deeper tributes here from fellow Vietnam veterans and here from the Iraq vets he was so busy mentoring. So I’ll fall back on Berryman, again, who finds a sideways way in to the worst.

—Now there you exaggerate, Sah. We hafta die.
That is our ‘pointed task. Love & die.
—Yes; that makes sense.
But what makes sense between, then? What if I
roiling & babbling & braining, brood on why and
just sat on the fence?

—I doubts you did or do. De choice is lost.
—It’s fool’s gold. But I go in for that.
The boy & the bear
looked at each other. Man all is tossed
& lost with groin-wounds by the grand bulls, cat.
William Faulkner’s where?

(Frost being still around.)

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