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Page 46
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<< 45. Dewey Canyon III (photos)47. Book Review of "100 Monkeys" >>

Fresh On Yesterday's Tracks (poem)

By Paul Nichols

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"America Betrays Herself in Vietnam"
wrote historian Barbara Tuchman.
Present-day folly, one word away.
Are W's lies less deceptive than LBJ's?
Will Rumsfeld trump McNamara's bane?

Repugnance, like breath
from a mouthful of rotten teeth.
No fix from meds or mints —
the only cure, removal.

From the distance, star-shirt fiends
lust for others' blood.

A haughty pledge, stay the course
Wishful thoughts, winning hearts and minds
Victorious blather, peace with honor

The march of fools . . .
while bold ones speak to silence.

Corruption gnaws at flimsy strings.
With callused hands
the puppet wields the puppeteer.
The greater audience sees pigeons.

Ash billows from the pyre,
the phoenix rises.
A brood of CIA spooks and mercenary goons
spew venom too familiar:

brick and concrete desert rubble
ablaze, thatched Quang Tri hamlets.

Haunted cells at Abu Ghraib —
naked terror snarls.
Gore to blot the looking glass,
as "Hanoi Hilton" stares,
and cries from Con Son Island's "tiger cages"
can't be muffled.

Spent munitions loiter,
their masters in denial.
Paid in full with wasted lives —
receiving end collateral.
And "friendly fire" is friendless.

Patient phantoms check no clock,
wait in silence
mindless of descendants.

post traumatic stress
unexploded ordnance
Agent Orange toxin
depleted uranium dust

build heinous monuments
to anguish.

Beliefs veer hard, collide with vengeance
Allah's mercy
God's will
mocked by zealots' twisted doctrine.
Yet, even Buddha
failed to halt the madness.

In sand, a vintage car idles
radio plays George Harrison,
"With every mistake we must surely be learning."
Wheels spin,
the rig sinks deeper,
bottoms out . . .
Mud, caked red,
still clings to weakened frame,
reveals a bygone wallow
in the mire.

—Paul Nichols

<< 45. Dewey Canyon III (photos)47. Book Review of "100 Monkeys" >>