Skip to main content

poetry Holes

Among the many things the USA left behind in Vietnam, besides pride, remains safely underground.


By W.D. Ehrhart


Out in the boonies of Vietnam

while on patrol, night after night

you’d dig a new fighting hole,

every night in a different place,

every night another hole

like a grave, but not as deep.

If you like this article, please sign up for Snapshot, Portside's daily summary.

(One summary e-mail a day, you can change anytime, and Portside is always free.)

On a company sweep, you’re

talking two hundred fifty holes

a night.  Battalion operation

a thousand holes each night.

Night after night after night.

And if you had to take a crap,

and everyone did, you dug

a little hole and shit in it.

We called them cat holes.

You also needed to dig a hole

for your garbage, mostly C-ration

cans, as if, if you buried your trash,

the Viet Cong and the NVA

wouldn’t know you’d been there.

The Americans dug these holes

for seven years, more or less.

Hundreds of thousands of holes.

Night after night after night

from the DMZ to the Mekong.

That’s a lot of holes,

a lot of garbage,

one hell of a lot of crap.

W. D. Ehrhart is a veteran of both the US Marine Corps and Vietnam Veterans Against the War.  He is author of Thank You for Your Service: Collected Poems.