The Sorrow of War: Vietnam War poem by Founding Poet Paul Hellweg, Site founder.   Founding Poet:     PAUL HELLWEG   Copyright © 2016
  The Sorrow of War

                        Over there, my most heartfelt concern
                        was to stay amongst the living,
                        preferably with genitals and spinal cord intact.
                        All of us prayed for the proverbial Million Dollar Wound,
                        one that didn't leave you permanently impaired, but
                        got you a coveted berth on one of the
                        hauntingly beautiful C-9 Nightingales
                        that flew our wounded back to the World.
                        Whenever Arclight B-52s dropped
                        thousand-pound blockbusters, we cheered,
                        caring not for the horror endured by others,
                        but the incremental increase
                        in our own chances for survival.
                        To our dismay, the bombing never worked,
                        the little bastards failed to cease and desist,
                        and I never understood
                        how they were able to survive
                        the angry punishment of our war machine.
                        Later I learned, most did not.
                        I cannot forget reading
                        The Sorrow of War by Bảo Ninh,
                        veteran of North Vietnam's
                        Glorious 27th Youth Brigade.
                        Of the 500 who went to war with the brigade,
                        Bao is one of only ten who survived.
                        Seems our war machine worked better than even
                        the brass understood. Undeterred by our
                        vastly superior firepower, the enemy
                        took losses we would've never tolerated.
                        Back then, I did not realize the other side
                        routinely sacrificed that much
                        for the cause they believed to be just.
                        Had I understood, I'd like to think
                        I would have responded with courage my own,
                        laying down my rifle, acknowledging then
                        as I do now, the respect due
                        human spirit undaunted and
                        suffering unredeemed.

( First published in  Gargoyle #64 )

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