Tears and Wails: An Ode to the Survivor

Fintan L. Dooley

Tears and Wails:

An Ode to the Survivor

—night on the U.S. Army Fort Ord surgical ward, 1970


Tears of my sleepless fellow, I do remember.

Every night hour our nurse salved the hole under his unclosable eye.

Adonis was 20, a farm kid, an Iowa football star, loyal,

in love with his high school queen. I was 25, a lonely philan- derer.

Russian rocket passed his face. Vietnam kept his eyelid, cheek and bone. Surgeons propped his eye with gauze and jammed sticks in my fist-broken nose.


And I do remember who scorned me the brawler, our well formed

Nurse whispered,

Don’t give up.


Wails let down her whispers. I saw her press his hand to her breasts.

Always believe in her love! Didn’t she say,

I promise to wait for you?

Let me tell your cheerleader!

Sure, he said, I do remember. She did promise to wait for me…



[In July of 2003 a North Dakota National Guard named John Fettig was killed in a rocket attack on his Hummer in Iraq. His passenger, Brandon Erickson, survived. Brandon is a childhood friend of USAF Lt. Jocelyn McCauley Dooley. Brandon is out of Walter Reed Hospital and home again. His right arm is in Iraq.]


Fintan L. Dooley , a former North Dakota attorney, is now a sculptor and reading teacher in a Carter School of Excellence, an Afro-Centric Charter School in Milwaukee, WI. He has three children: a son, Nereus, who served in Gulf War I; daughter, Luella, will be commis- sioned a lieutenant in the National Guard in December 2003, and a younger daughter, Jocelyn a 2003 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy. Fintan was honorably dis- charged from the U.S. Army in 1972 after service as a paratrooper and Syrian-Arabic Linguist.



176                                               War, Literature & the Arts