|Only the dead would rest-67
Banana farms are growing in the red dirt
as we follow the smell and the busy flies,
they take us to the dead.
The Northern Vietnamese families
would never know the plans we had
their dead human bodies
are awkward and heavy to carry.
Rolling over in my mind is that family somewhere
their soldier fallen unknown to them
a death sentence, there would be no children to come.
Isn't it always North and South soldiers going to wars?
from the fields of Gettysburg to Dien Bien Phu,
aren't there always lines of fire and artillery blasts,
wounded, killed, prisoners of war, all left behind?
Papers signed in ink for peace were really blotted in blood
God... the tears that were shed by families everywhere
hearts broken and mothers left with small children,
their little dogs, running around their legs forever.
Mike Hendershot 2010
Only the dead have seen the end to war...Geo. Santayama
20 Jan 10
Rated 9.3 (9.7) by 3 users.
Active (3): 9, 9
Inactive (2): 10, 10, 10
(define the words in this poem)
(150 more poems by this author)
(2 users consider this poem a favorite)
Add A Comment:
Okay...firstly, let's get to some spelling errors: L4 should be Northern, should it not? L9 Northern seems redundant, L13 should be "and" if I'm reading it correctly and again, you strike chords with a time in history that not so much begs revisitation, but certainly reAFFIRMATION. Starr smiles @j.g. :-)
Starr thank you for edit help... God knows I need it every time...
The man I killed went down like cement, boom, down... the sunlight killed him... normal adults do not want to hear trauma narratives... it wasn't a war it was a love story... j.g. smiles
Another compelling piece from the 67 series and a tragic memoir. I was wondering, is it Dien Bien Phu? Or am I mixing it up with another Vietnamese district? Anyway, nice write.
Your write ha JKWeb not one to let anything slide huh your a good editor ... can I plead a short spurt of dyslexia? anyway I was never there thank God, another mess in the rice bowl of asia which has been fought over for many hundreds of years, for just that fact they can feed nations except when the bamboo blooms early and the creek doesn't rise... thanks again j.g. smiles
The last stanza takes this from a description in a history book and makes it real. L18 is heartbreaking man.
Line 3: Didn't understand why there was a need to indicate duality, "their/ours" perhaps just make it the dead? Maybe a minor edit such as: "Banana farms grow in the red dirt. We follow the smell and busy flies, to the bodies of the dead."
The poem comes off a bit "matter-of-fact-ly" which might indicate a degree of desensitization, though I am unsure of that was the intent.
I like the detail of how dead bodies are awkward to carry, but wish it was developed a bit better.
Also like the notion/questioning why nations divide North to South.
Are you considering a re-write?
I believe there were more American causalities over the course of 3-Days at the Battle of Gettysburg, then there were throughout the entire course of the Vietnam War.
It's pretty staggering.
Thanks for posting.
Old Shoe Have never seen such interest in a piece on p/c before... I have made changes per your edit which I thank you for... the numbers were staggering I never realized today the number killed in Gettysburg before in such a short time compared to our loss at approximate 58,000 and millions of Vietnamese totals are remarkable but in a three day battle that was a lot of death as you pointed out... rewriting I have never done some day I may take that on here at p/c you only get one chance or two to get it out so the other guy gets his... thanks again very much for your points j.g. smiles
wenz... thank you also for for your comments and interest... the implications of this or any war has on future families is very heart breaking, the waste alone in material was staggering all the children on all sides of these wars were the victims in some way, and as I have said before mothers didn't raise their children for bullets... the Cuillin is seen rising on the other side... j.g. smiles
you continue to amaze with such profound writing, my friend. This is excellent.
pauls it is your works that amaze me... thanks for your uplifting comment...j.g. smiles
Like OS said, a lotl of this is very desensitised and just like recounting from a history book - it's kind of sad how people are just generally unaffected by deaths now: it's become numbers, percentages and recounts.
But the last line, the image of little dogs, pets that we love and adore becoming just a memory, that makes this real.
Wendz I admire your interest 1 thru 10 was first hand knowledge my walk my experience etc... 11 thru 18 was a me commenting on the war and how is seems odd about North and South, first hand experience with the war in Nam anyway my heart on war is it is sad and a lot more I don't get anything I write from history books... my heart is set on the little dogs running around father less children... please help me understand more by asking more questions I am here to serve ... J.G. Smiles
To put war deaths in perspective, the U.S. at times kills 50,000 people a year in auto accidents. I am an ex front line solider in that conflict, as a medic. Don't write about it though. This is my first in your series. I agree L18 is very strong. I also favor the opening. The questions aren't as compelling to me as the scenes drawn about the people. Thank you.
Goeszon - are you the same user as BXPR?
Unk... My history goes back longer than his, I do not argue, my mind set is different, we even served in different areas an at different times... Unk I can assure you if you look at the history of my pieces you will see a different style, take some of your time to read the saga of -67... I can completely understand your concern... J.G. Smiles
Hey Mike are you scared of unknowns ? "My history goes back longer than his, (you were there in 66 and I was there in 67) I do not argue, my mind set is different, we even served in different areas an at different times... Unk I can assure you if you look at the history of my pieces you will see a different style, take some of your time to read the saga of -67... I can completely understand your concern" are you a former Marine or a mouse? Are you going to comment "please don't pick on me I'm a nice Marine" next? You're not keeping it real your copping a plea. I'm disappointed in you. This gives me a whole different opinion of you. Semper Fi huh? Right.
Mistak,e you were there in 67 I in 68
Nic/mic thank you for your interest and comments they are well received... My writing is part of my personal therapy for PTSD... when you write about being an ex serviceman in your field may I remind you that you are a prior service person in this field, this is my conviction... The comparison of North and South may come from my service and tours 18 months of duty on the border of North and South Viet Nam the DMZ as it is called... again please refer to the sagas of -67 in my list of pieces... j.g. smiles
I served in the Marines from 17 and a half from March 65 thru July 69... my time in-country was from November 66 thru 68 when I left Viet Nam for stateside duty in California... I never try to get things complicated... I am sorry if I in any way I stepped on your toes or your service that was never my point I was showing the difference in style an I don't argue here as I am witnessing now... there is no point unless history is mistaken and miss represented as it may have been here... j.g. smiles
My tour of duty... RVN... Republic of Viet Nam... was in country 18 months plus... I was not able to stay another tour because I was considered slightly crazy etc. that would have been over doing it... but I knew the smells, the sounds and felt comfortable I knew how to soldier there rather than being in the world... the U.S.A. a lot of Vets may have agreed at that time plus there were perks to staying on board for 3 tours... j.g. smiles
I am not afraid of unks to the degree of fear... I just will not argue with them for my own reasons... I think I understand their part in p/c though I don't want to be a part of it for my reasons... therefore the unks will go on an I will try to go on without disruption hopefully... j.g. smiles
I signed up when I was 17 had to get my parent's signature. Went to Nam in July of 68 wounded in February of 69 in the I Corp area, Quang Nai in the Quang Tri provence, FYI no one served in the DMZ that's why it's named the DMZ the DeMilitarized Zone or the 17th parallel, and its a geographic zone or area not a border. I was medivac'd out of country and finished my tour in Okinawa. You didn't step on my toes or misrepresented my service you compromised the motto and the code "Semper Fi" to make sure you wouldn't get any low ratings by unknowns. But enough said at least we know where we both stand now you value ratings I value the USMC Band of Brothers
you can taste and smell the death,fear,sorrow, sadness, feeling of loss. I wish i could write like you, straight to the point.
Hulda... It is amazing that you live in Iceland, thank you for stopping bye with your comment...Goeszon
L15 to l18...still paints a vivid image for me.
Thanks for the descriptions man.
Thanks Wendz for your observation this all comes from first hand experience...
I softly inquire where was God? Goeszon