The deep truth is imageless.  P B Shelley

On the Road

My arms and legs are tightly bound.
But in the hills birds sing and flowers blossom.
Who can prevent my enjoying such sweet scent
and sound?
In my long trudge I might feel a little less lonesome.

—from Ho Chi Minh, Prison Diary.                                        1942

Cowboy voice on a newsreel drawled
hundreds of reds were killed under                                             1954
the barrage and still they come.

After meeting with Soviet Premier Nikita
Khrushchev, Kennedy told his friend                                           1961
the journalist James Reston, ‘Now we have
a problem in making our power credible,
and Vietnam is the place.’  Because
God blessed America it’s bad luck
to attract the eye of American resolve.

The Long Trudge

How are you, GI Joe? It seems to me{mosimage}
that most of you are poorly informed
about the going of the war, to say nothing
about a correct explanation of your presence
over  here.  Nothing is more confused                             (Hanoi Hannah
than to be ordered into a war to die,                                 16 June, 1967)
or to be maimed for life without the faintest
idea of what’s going on.

Zippo lighters set village roofs on fire
the country burns like a Roman emperor’s
cruel dream.  Hell for everyone, but
in the free-fire zones it’s a turkey shoot.

A healthy kill ratio of eight to one—
US forces win major engagements.
Superior technology facilitates an effective kill
ratio more like 40 to one though this estimate
includes an unknown number of non-combatants
and friendlies.  It’s down to better weaponry and massive
firepower—carpet bombing to heat-seeking cluster bombs
some of which don’t explode immediately, glittering toys
the village kids pick up and blow off their legs and arms.
A new bomb tested didn’t work: a 10,000 pound bomb
the pointy-heads hoped would burn all oxygen at ground level
over fifty acres, suffocate a communist village.
It just thumped on the ground and was captured
by the enemy.  Napalm works fine burning forest
& villages so the VC and NVA regulars can’t hide.
The daisy cutter is a work of art, more a style of bombing
than the bomb itself.  Exploded a few feet above the ground
it clears vegetation and buildings in a perfect circle
with a diameter of 250 feet.  People burn sweetly, too.
Dioxin agent orange leaves a lasting gift your children’s
children will appreciate.  The battle for hearts and minds
was won by the Zippo lighter.

Museums are Places for Weeping

a photo in The Sydney Morning Herald:
an old woman in a southern Hanoi suburb
holding her baby grand-daughter
killed by Nixon’s Christmas bombings
cursing the B-52s overhead.  According
to the caption the old lady cried out
‘America how can you be so savage?’
These were the final bombings, pitilessly                                   1972
targeting civilians, to bring Hanoi
to her knees and back to the negotiating table,
to ensure a just and lasting peace.

Open Door

Today, the bomb craters are fish ponds
the mangroves and forests grow back with a vengeance.
Cities bustle with life and commerce.
The police don’t carry guns but older people jump
when an engine backfires or a tyre pops.
Young children learn at school, ‘War is a terrible thing’
what happened years ago was a terrifying nightmare
a mystery for then, as now, the Vietnamese                                2003
had no argument with America. But they are also taught
to hold and aim a rifle and sometimes bad dragons do return.
In the hills birds sing and flowers blossom.
No one should prevent you enjoying such sweet scent
and sound.

Your thoughts?