Author's Bio.

My photo
Mushroom Montoya circumnavigated the globe aboard the USS Trippe DE1075 after killing soldiers, woman and children in Viet Nam. Now, as a shaman, he heals the planet one person at a time. Mushroom Montoya has an active shamanic healing practice in Long Beach, California and he teaches at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Cal State Univ. Long Beach.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Dollar, Proudly Framed

A dollar.
Only one dollar.
Special because it's first.
First to pay.
First one earned.
Now displayed,
Proudly framed.
Russian letters.
Russian Owners?
Did that dollar
Buy a cup
of Vietnamese coffee?
In Nha Trang?
In Viet Nam?

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Return To Viet Nam 44 Years Later

You Needn't See

The Vietnamese woman who comforted me in my dreams and meditations during the Viet Nam war stood on the cruise ship’s veranda deck with her hands across her chest. The green ocean lifted us up and down with its 12 foot swells as the ship sailed northward along the Viet Nam coast. The salty ocean breeze fluttered the bottom of her green ao dai. She closed her eyes and bowed her head slightly. Her conical straw hat glimmered even though the clouds hid the sun.
"I want to see the coastline," I said. “The clouds and mist are hiding it.”
"The coastline will not serve you," she said. "You came back to heal your war wounds. The coastline was beautiful then as it is now. Looking for old wounds won't serve you. You needn't see."
The green ocean swells waved with their white gloved hands, "Welcome back," they said.
I still wished I could see the coastline mountains and beaches. A light breeze continued to play with the Vietnamese woman’s ao dai as she walked over to me. She stood next to me and laid her head on my shoulder.
"I wish I could see it too,” she said, “but I know the jungle, the beaches, and the mountains are still there. They are still beautiful. Trust me," she said. "You have your memories. They will sooth you."
***
The city of Hoi An bubbled with bustling buskers, vendors and tourists. Motorcycles zoomed to and fro around pedestrians, cars, buses and bikes. The aromas of cooked fish, curry, cigarette smoke and motorcycle exhaust swirled around me. Tourists clicked away with their cameras and cell phones. Vendors hawked their wares, inviting me to come and take a closer look. Hoi An's yellow buildings buzzed vibrantly with activity. Dogs played with each other on the sidewalk. Two dogs wore shirts that my camera captured. Happiness placed her head on my chest as I stood on the sidewalk taking it all in.
The Vietnamese lady, dressed in her green ao dai and conical straw hat, stood behind Denise in the coffee shop, smiling, her eyes closed. She sipped her own cup of iced Vietnamese coffee. She opened her eyes and winked at me. She tilted her head toward the coffee shop staff who were wearing their jazzy straw hats. "Aren't they beautiful," she said.
"Yes, they are,” I replied, “and that makes me happy."

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Flying to Viet Nam 44 Years Later




Flying Her Home To Viet Nam

A single tear drop slides down the EVA Airlines window as we taxi to the runway at LAX. Tall purple towers glow a goodbye salute. My seat shakes as the wheels of the 777 rumble to the turnaround point to prepare for takeoff. My destination: Viet Nam squeezes up a tear. I refuse to let it out. “Not yet,” I whisper. “Not yet.”

 "Finally," she whimpers. Her voice stuns my breath away. I look out the window. Her ao dai shimmers silver white though the clouds. "You think that part of you died in Viet Nam. But that's not completely true,” she says. “You took something and now it's finally going home.”

 A lump rolls into a ball in my throat preventing me from swallowing. "What did I take?" I struggle to ask.

"Memories, fear, awe, the beauty and the horror of it all," she says and bows her head. Her pointed straw hat momentarily hides her face.

 "I brought you too, didn't I?” I say.

 "Yes,” she says as she lifts her head. “And now I am finally going home,"

 "Why did you leave?" I ask.

 "You screamed every day for me,” she says. “I held your hand and sat by your side. Every day I came to comfort you. I gave you my beauty. I ate your platters of fear but I couldn't eat your shame. So you brought me with you. I made you cry because you made me cry for my children. Whenever you saw Vietnamese people you cried and I cried inside you. I wanted to go home. I wanted to take you back to my home and enjoy Viet Nam like you should have in the first place.”

 “Are you the one I saw during the war?” I asked, even though I knew she was.

 “Yes I am the Vietnamese woman in the green dress who held your hand and forgave you. Now you can forgive yourself. We are both going home.”

 

                                             ***

The rain persists in Taiwan as I read from the book I had written about my time in the Viet Nam war while we waited to board our connecting flight from Taipei to Singapore. I was surprised to hear my mother's words colored with a strong New Mexican accent as I read her words in the first chapter, “Your letters scared me,” she said. “I cried every time one came through the front door mail slot.”

We board and I take my window seat. Here too, water droplets slide down the plane's window, writing their own stories on the glass. The gray skies lie with the earth and nibble the horizon away as our plane grumbles over the uneven tarmac on its way to the new starting point for takeoff. The sky sheds its tears on the ground.

 A soft and tender hand rests on my shoulders. The green dressed lady asks, "Why are you crying?"

 I cannot answer.

 "I am going home and I am welcoming you to my beautiful country.” she says and bows. “I showed you how beautiful it was in 1972 in spite of the war. It is even more beautiful now. You will see.”

 I look out the window. The clouds have eaten the end of the runway for lunch. They are crying laughing tears.

 “Fly higher,” the sun beckons to the plane as we ascend into the clouds. “I will brighten your day.”

The clouds whine and cry some more. "This plane is ours," they yell to the sun.

I hear him laugh and see him grin a golden light. “You can have it if it chooses to stay wet and miserable,” the sun says and giggles.

The clouds stick out their wet tongues at the sun. The plane continues to climb. Father sky offers a big blue smile. He teases the clouds by sprinkling sparkles on their tips.

I place my forehead against the plane’s little porthole. The clouds hold their hands on their hips and push out their fat white bellies to block my view below of Viet Nam.

“Not yet,” they tease. “Not yet.”
 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Chapter 24 - Sea Fairies

I stood on the helo deck after dinner, watching first class boatswains mate, Keegan, yell orders to his deck apes as they pulled supplies and ammunition from the ammo ship. His pants fluttered in the wind of the two ships speeding across the gulf. Diesel fuel permeated the salt air as the sun began its descent into the west. We'd have to work fast to get the ammo below decks before darkness blinded our ability to see. When the ammo ship finished replenishing our supply of rounds for our Mk-42 cannon, the two ships maneuvered closer together allowing the deck apes to safely release the tension lines that kept the U.S.S. Trippe and the ammo ship a safe distance apart while we transferred the ammo.

I walked down to the main deck to take my place in line to reload the five-inch gun's magazines. I stood behind Otis worrying that the three large wooden boxes, filled with seventy pound bombs, would require a lot of effort to empty before darkness came.

Turning around to face me, Otis asked, “I wonder if I would be any safer on the ammo ship?”

“Not really,” I said. “An American ammo ship would be a great target for a Vietnamese MiG fighter.”

Standing in the line of sailors, we helped pass the bombs from one man to the next.

“Use yer fuckin thighs, not yer backs when passing them fucking rounds,” Keegan yelled. “Don't ya go dropping them or we'll all be blown to bloody hell.”

The bombs snaked their way across the deck and down the ladder to the magazine under our five-inch gun. It didn't take long for our arms to ache and our brows to sweat.

“I can't believe how heavy these rounds are,” I said to Otis.

Keegan put his hand on his chin and asked, “Would I be havin two pussies in me line? Quit yer damn belly aching. The sun's goin down and we ain't got much time. Just get a move on.”

When Keegan walked away, Otis said, “He's such a cock sucker.”

“It's just a facade,” I said. “Watch how well he takes care of his deck apes. He just wants us to be safe.”

When we finished, I hurried to get to my battle station. I looked inside the repair locker and took an inventory of the equipment, noting the location of the fire hoses, wrenches and pry bars, the most likely tools we would need, if we were to get hit.

As the second hand inched its way around my watch, I thought about my earlier mediation and what the Vietnamese woman meant when she said she had forgiven me and that 1972 was only a thought away. I wondered if the war would end soon. God, I hope so. Would I want to come back after the war? I would love to swim in these waters. The Vietnamese women are beautiful with their fine features, tanned skin and sing song voices. Would they want us to come back?

Our Mk-42 cannon, two decks above me, fired at a target. My back muscles tensed, my breathing sped up. After a few more shots, then silence. The second hand on my orange Seiko watch resumed its slow march around the dial. My five hour battle station watch ended at three in the morning. I had an hour before my sounding and security watch. My arms were sore from transferring the ammo. I wanted to sleep. But I knew that in forty minutes, the sailor who was currently standing watch would attempt to wake me and that would only piss me off. I tromped over to the beverage machine hoping that a Coke would help me stay awake. Sitting at a table in the empty galley, I was grateful that I could drink a cold Coca Cola despite the battle raging on. I loved the fizziness and taste of Coke. It was a liquid candy bar that reminded me of cokes I used to buy at the liquor store on the corner of Anaheim Street and Junipero Avenue back home in Long Beach. When I was a paperboy, I used to put peanuts into the coke bottle and watch the peanuts slide down as I drank it. On this night, I missed not having peanuts. When I finished drinking my coke, I tossed the Coca Cola can into the waste basket and went topside to get some fresh air.

The effort that I had to exert to open the door surprised me. I lifted my foot over the threshold and ducked my head through the doorway out into a blackness that drowned every glimmer of light under its wave. Extending my hand and searching for an obstruction, I took one step. Black, nothing. I put my hand out again and took another step. Still black, nothing. Something wet grabbed my hand. “SHIT! What the..” I jumped and every muscle squeezed the beejesus out of me.

“Ha! You'rrre blind as a bloody bat, arren'tcha laddy. Hold on and trrry not to fall on yerrr face.”

Who was this guy? Where was he taking me? I did not recall anyone with an Irish accent that flowed off his tongue like he'd been telling stories about banshees all his life. It took me a while to realize that it was Keegan, the old salty sailor, boatswain's mate first class. “Lighten yerrr step laddy, the deck is slipperier than a wet dick sliding into a warrrm cunt.” He laughed, gurgling a hint of whiskey on his breath.

“Look over the side, Laddy. What da ya see?

“Is that phosphorescence making the water glow as the ship cuts through?”

“Fuck no. Tis sea fairrries that light yourr way acrross the ocean at night. I never get tired of watching em. Never. Reminds me of fishing as a lad, with me old man.”

“What is that really, Keegan?” I queried.

“I told ya. Tis sea fairies.” Keegan was in an unusually kind and friendly mood, aided by the contents of his canteen, no doubt.

“There's no such thing as sea fairies,” I said and immediately felt stupid for stating the obvious. I hoped that he would tell me a sea story about how the sea fairies came to be.

“If you are going to be a bloody bastard and ruin me love of the sea, then bumble and rrrumble yer way back inside.”

“Come on, Keegan, I'm only trying to learn.”

“You young college types arre all the same. No love of mysterry. Just the facts mam, Mr Joe Friday! Dinoflagellate.”

“Dino what?”

“Look it up in yourr fancy encyclopedia. Go. Leave me be with me sea fairies.”

I didn't leave. I laid down, hanging my head over the bow of the ship, mesmerized by Keegan's sea fairies surfing the waves as the ship cut through the liquid blackness.

“Keegan, aren't you afraid that we might get blown up while we sail up and down the coast?”

“Aye laddy, I'd be crazy if I wasn't. But I ain't gonna let what I can't control stop me from enjoying me sea fairies. Ya see, laddy, only the good lord knows when he's gonna take the wind out of our bloody sails and bring us home. So tis a fucking shame if ya waste yer time holding on to yer wee little dick for fear that it'll get blown off. Enjoy whatever the good lord gives ya and to bloody hell to what worries ya.”

“Keegan, You're a sea faring philosopher,” I said. He would have been a good chief, were it not for his drinking.

“Ain't it time fer ye to get up, laddy? Would ye be having a watch coming up?”

“I do. Thanks for telling me about the sea fairies.”

“Ye better keep a sharp eye out tonight. Me sea fairies told me there's danger afoot. Be off with ye now.”

Thursday, July 10, 2014

During the Viet Nam war, I looked at the faces of the fisherman in their boats. I looked at the shore and saw soldiers on both sides shooting each other while our ship's five inch gun (cannon with a 5 inch diameter barrel) blasted away, killing soldiers, women and children.
I wondered what would happen if all of the enlisted military personnel on both sides decided to stop killing. Suppose we all played soccer.