Of all of the poems, I felt that So We Shot was the strongest that we read from Micus. His writing in this was direct, both in format and meaning. Though direct, this poem also acted as an almost carnival mirror in that it showed me, the reader, a distorted image of what I expected to see when imagining a war like Vietnam. Whether manipulated by my patriotism or just a simple lack of understand of the events that transpired, I generally envisioned American soldiers standing above a dead member of an opposing force, carrying upon him both an American flag and a smile. This poem was just more proof that things are not always what they seem.
These boys went over and their youth coupled with training resulted in trigger happy soldiers, shooting anything and everything that they saw, but as Micus said, "Because we rarely saw them, we rarely shot the enemy." Just as this poem showed someone like me a truth I was not expecting, so did Vietnam to these soldiers. They shot, and they shot a lot. They shot at whatever they could; they shot just to shoot. As the poem progresses, so does its severity. Their targets begin as birds, parrots, and gulls and then all of a sudden those simple birds have human faces. They shoot women and children and old men, but they do not shoot the enemy, because they do not see the enemy.
The last line in the poem was the one that hit the hardest. He goes out with a bang, literally. Many soldiers, especially the young ones who didn't necessarily understand and consider the reprocussions of their actions, had serious trouble when they returned home. It is only speculation since I have never been involved in a war, but I would think it would be most difficult to deal with death when you go home, away from the war, and have plenty of time to think about it. In battle, a soldier is often blinded by his instincts, by adrenaline, and by a yearning to live so he does what he must. PTSD occurs when they finally have a chance to think about and question their actions and when they finally have the chance to judge themselves. I think the transition from youth to death makes this is a really sad poem, but this is a very real poem.
(Sorry for the late response, Mike. I was in Oxford to bring my girlfriend back home and finally have access to a computer this morning.)