Steven H. Leitch, Utah resident since 1973, has been a member of the Utah State Poetry Society(UTSPS) for over 15 years. He has had poetry published in Utah Sings, Panorama, Poet Tree, and The Deadeye News (an Army publication), various online poetry sites and has received numerous local and national poetry recognitions and awards. He resides with his wife, Deanna, in West Jordan and is a current UTSPS board member serving as our mailing coordinator. A veteran of the United States Air Force (1969-1973), he graduated from Weber State College (1978), where he received a BS degree in Art and Photography. He also served in the US Army Reserve from 1979-2009 as an Army photographer, journalist, public affairs specialist and first sergeant. In 2013 he retired from the University of Utah’s School of Medicine, where he served as a staff photographer for 37 years.
Hailstones by Steven Leitch
Crumpled sheets of paper like hailstones
cover most of the walking area of the tent floor.
Empty paper coffee cups and ashtrays
full of half-smoked cigarettes litter
the table by his old Royal typewriter.
He sleeps on the cot nearby, and dreams
of Coney Island.
He smells the cotton candy,
can almost taste its sweet, fluffy nectar.
He is far from this tent, this country, this war.
The boom of close artillery
rocks him back to reality.
He gets ups and starts again.
It’s his duty to write home
to the parents of boys killed
in his company,
a skill not taught at West Point.
Having been in-country for three months,
he hardly knew his officers,
let alone his soldiers.
Now here he is in his hooch,
pecking out words on his old Royal
to comfort the family of a son,
to people he will never see,
about a soldier he hardly knew.
The rattle of the AK-47* is very much like
the tap of that old typewriter. Clack, Clack, Clack!
Paper ripping from its carriage sounds like
the launch of a mortar. Ziiipp!
Hail storms in Vietnam?
*AK-47-Russian made automatic rifle, extensively used by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam Conflict-because of its construction it emitted a recognizable clacking sound.