The Phan Rang fields first heard about my autumn birth
from helicopters hovering over Vietnam.
My father, nicely hidden from a hostile bomb,
was told through rasping speakers, on a crisping earth.
That news, which should have cheered, left little room for mirth,
revealing his position in the rice and palm
between Bandito Charlie and Ohio Tom,
while calling into question its announcer’s worth.
Strategically incautious, at the very least;
a sentimental act of indiscretion –
how could such a lapse in judgment have occurred?
I hope perhaps to be a signal to the East
that here was one whose fate would fall to its possession,
whose name came through the heavens, from a Firebird.
— This poem appears in the July 11 print issue of National Review.