Posted tagged ‘Why didn’t we learn more from THAT war poem’

A North American, on Being Prompted To Write a Poem about a Vietnamese Cave

October 4, 2014


A North American, on Being Prompted To Write a Poem about a Vietnamese Cave

I can’t think about caves in Vietnam
without picturing soldiers
hiding–or boys who would be made
to be soldiers,
girls who would be made
to serve them–

Which shows, I suppose, how stuck in time
I am, mired in old sores as if they were a ditch
and me a rear wheel, wayward,
blades of switch grass buzzing
in the spin of my caught hub.

My ditch–and I want to make this
crystal clear (as some around that time
used to affect)–
has nothing to do with any dislike
of the Vietnamese–rather, it collects its ditch-pitch

from a consciousness of my own (our own)
wrong turns, reckless
wreckage, last minute

I picture tendrils
of tan fingers.  They touch for balance–
for who could grip?–the lime sluice
of a stalag-something (that serves as
both bar and shield). Their eyes, schooled
in a glittering verdigris of frond, sun,
paddy, ache in the echoing dank,
but there are just too many
damn greens outside–
khaki, camo, olive drab–

And now, sitting here on my side of the spin,
I wonder about their stepping into
the sun after all that–years–
those would-not-
be soldiers,
blinking below a leaf canopy, sleek hair
dull for that spent time,
yet still framing their faces wholly,
looking up.

Why do I not know more?
Why did we not learn more
about such things?


Yes, I know–I’m pushing it.  A poem of sorts for Hannah’s prompt on With Real Toads to write something inspired by the beautiful Hang Sun Doong Cave.  The cave was not formally discovered until 1991, some time after the Vietnam War. 

Also, I couldn’t find a cave picture that I felt sure was in the common domain, so the above is mine–it doesn’t have to do with caves!  But yes, with reflection.

And I am sorry for the endless self-promotion, but if you have any interest (and 99 cents) do check out my new book, Nice, which takes place during the Vietnamese War. 

Process note–Richard Nixon was known for often making things “crystal clear.”