Phil is a Navy Photographer is from Texas. I don’t remember his last name. His parents are said to have some ownership in Neiman Marcus, and he’s led us to believe he’s very rich. This assertion seems true as his parents would send wonder-packages of delicacies from home. While most GIs receive cookies and toothpaste, Phil’s gift boxes are treasure chests from the upper crust. One night we eat several different varieties of caviar, smoked salmon, and exotic cheeses till we near burst.
In his room, Phil has a stash of fine wine that costs more per bottle than we make in a month. We polish off about five bottles from his stash one night, and come to think we are poets. The more we drink, the idea that all men at war are really poets seems to make sense. To prove this wine-fueled theory, we go through the barracks waking sleeping poet warriors and writing down their thoughts, "Sleep more. What am I suppose to think?" one irritated sailor says.
At times the comments were not so lovely, but still a poem of sorts begins to emerge. "I'm going to step on your face,” a groggy aircrew man says from a top bunk. “I'll see the light." another says. “That's beautiful,” Phil writes in his note pad as we walk on. Foolishly we think others are finding our literary quest just as fascinating as we. Eventually we wake the wrong sailor. He hops out of bed ready to fight. Too drunk to know we are about to get our asses kicked, we consume ourselves writing down yet another great line, "I should have been a ghostly matador, chasing shadows of San Francisco stevedores," an awakened sailor rhymes in the true poetic spirit. "Now there's a good fellow," I say in a British accent.
We are trying to get that great line in our opus when some annoying guy keeps slamming us against the wall. Wayne Dorn a fellow photographer hears a commotion and comes to our rescue. He tells the angry sleeper who is trying to make Phil eat the poem, “You selling Woof Cookies? Cause if you selling Woof Cookies, then I’m buying,” Dorn yells into the combative GI’s face. None of us know what Woof Cookies are, but no one wants to tangle with Dorn, who is a Mandingo warrior from the streets of Chicago. He quickly convinces the angry literary critic to go back to bed, and sends Phil and I to the sidelines. We become obsessed with the line “woof cookies” and use it to title our poem—Woof Cookies, by Phil and Bill. We also decide from then on to call Wayne Dorn Woof Cookie, and so it was.
Turns out we were all poets, I think as I crash on the floor in my room, but Phil sits on a bunk and writes on, "I suppose this dealt with time,” he reflects in the poem. “An element in time, but no…time passes, it passes, and I know it does.” I read all this the next morning when I wake on the cold tile. Phil had wandered off leaving the poem on my bunk. It seems Phil found his grove around 4 a.m. “Time, it’s a marvel on the wall," good line I think. "We let time win our hearts and minds." Phil writes on as I snore. "So Bill is asleep on the floor, and Phil's sidestepping the bulls in the shadows." Evidently Phil hears someone call in the barracks hall for Buck Traxler who is up early for morning watch, This gives Phil the poem’s last line, "Trax, Trax, wears a watch," Phil observes Trax's wide leather band in fashion at the time. He goes on to play with the phrase "Where is the watch?" I think the wine must have worn off as he starts to make sense. It was all about playing with time I think when I find the poem buried in a file marked "important military papers" forty years later.
Neman MarcusPhilipThe PoetCam Rahn Bay. Naval Air FacilityNavyPhotographers