"Between the horrors of the Vietnam War and the paci_ c silences of the Kansas
prairie, H. C. Palmer honors both the beauty of the English language and the ancient
powers of poetry to speak experience without diminishing it. Seldom has the
poetry of war achieved such aesthetic intensity and moral clarity or so powerfully
raised us from the illusion that the wounds of Achilles will ever mend."
--B. H. Fairchild, The Art of the Lathe and Usher
"An epigraph in this first book by H.C. Palmer offers a clue to why the poetry is
so affecting: 'to see and know a place is a contemplative act.' The places visited
in this little book are as varied as rural Kansas and war-torn Vietnam where
the author was a battalion surgeon who returned home to practice medicine,
deal with the family farm, and walk the trout streams in Wyoming, bringing his
past experiences with him, vividly, and with beautiful precision of detail even
when the events are disturbing...like my favorites: 'Resurrection, ' which traces a
deadly bullet in reverse time back to its smelting in Independence, Missouri . . .
or 'Bird-Hunting the Tall Grass, ' which tricks the reader into a flashback . . . or
Palmer's elegant poems of lyric praise for nature like 'Ode to the Rio Grande
Cutthroat' and the wonderful 'Tide.'
--John Balaban, Remembering Heaven's Face and After Our War
"Encountering these poems you might think of B. H. Fairchild, James
Wright, Gary Snyder, Brian Turner, but you'd be wrong. This is original
work where time jumps, as does the boundary betwixt reality and dream,
memory and imagination. And war, as it will, soaks all. H. C. Palmer writes
with the visceral authority of combat seen and visions earned. Vital,
necessary reading . . ."
--Donald Anderson, Fire Road and Gathering Noise from My
Life: A Camouflaged Memoir
"As a young medical resident, H. C. Palmer was drafted by Lyndon Baines
Johnson to serve in the Vietnam War. He treated comrades and wounded
civilians alike; he saw many die. In Feet of the Messenger, he has produced
an extraordinary testament to that moment in history and to its afterlife.
America did not invent the practice of shipping its young people off to
slaughter other people on specious pretexts, and H. C. Palmer is far too
wise, and far too good a poet, to lecture us on the consequences, but in
his tributes to the dead, his tributes to survival, his luminous portraits of
compassion and reprieve, he grants us a vision of the better world we still,
please heaven, might have a chance to make."
--Linda Gregerson, Magnetic North and Waterborne
"H. C. Palmer's poems evoke a place and a time, Vietnam during the war,
with clarity and heart. They are invocations to the spirits of memory and
healing. They are witnesses that must be heard."
--Karl Marlantes, Matterhorn: A Novel of the VietnamWar and
What It Is Like to Go to War