Doris I. “Lucki” Allen’s Three Days Past Yesterday: A Black Woman’s Journey Through Incredibility (CreateSpace, 72 pp., $10, paper) lives up to its subtitle: It tells the story of an incredible journey by a black woman in the United States Army. There are passages worthy of note and respect in every chapter and in every poem. This is an honest and clear presentation of Allen’s three tours in the Vietnam War and her ongoing struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Allen, a member of Vietnam Veterans of America, writes that her three Bronze Stars and other career honors in no way make her a hero, nor do they ameliorate her PTSD symptoms. “‘Why are you laughing Lucki?’, they ask me. My reply, ‘I’m laughing just to keep from crying.’ Will this feeling of helplessness ever go away? I’m still stuck in Vietnam.”
Allen’s prose and poetry are filled with examples of how she was changed by the Vietnam War. For example: “I still can’t understand why people kill people to show people that killing people is wrong.”
This concise compendium illustrates that Allen’s ability to handle life in a combat zone and deal with her post-war emotional problems are due in great measure to the support she had from her parents growing up. “I knew that I was unique,” she writes. “Mom and Dad saw to that. Mom assured me that no matter what risks I took in life she and Dad would always be there to help guide me. And so it goes—I have never been ordinary.”
Keeping her parents’ encouraging words in mind as she served in Vietnam War from 1967-70 helped Allen (in Vietnam in the photo below) through many tough times. However, while seeking the safety of bunkers during rocket attacks she found other sources of security. As she writes: “Between God and my bottle of Crown Royal, I knew I could make it through each day.”
Despite the brevity of this work, much wisdom is revealed. It’s akin to what might be found in a cleric’s daily breviary. In this case, the book provides veterans with valuable methods of managing some of combat’s unresolved remnants.
I plan on keeping this book within reach at my desk and I recommend it to any veteran.
Since April is National Poetry Month, here is Allen’s poem, “Help”:
All she knew was the word Help…
Didn’t know what help
She wanted cause she couldn’t explain what
Help she needed.
So the medic came and asked
” What’s the matter?”
All she could say was “I don’t know”