By Tom Motko (March 30, 2020)
(For National Viet Nam Veterans’ Day 3/29)
Please do not thank me for Viet Nam.
Just welcome me home and let me finally rest.
Gratitude misplaced grants you no absolution.
Congratulate my survival and my brothers’
but atone for your country and its sins.
Do penance for the whores and the half bloods,
put flowers on the toddler’s graves and the burning Buddhists,
beg forgiveness of the poisoned waters and bloodied jungles,
and the ravished tribes, and the raped and beaten daughters,
and for Con Son Island, and the lost, wandering ancestors.
Bow your head for the chemical waste and the gored oxen,
the cluster bombs, free fire zones, and body counts.
But, please do not thank me for Viet Nam.
Just light a candle and let me finally sleep.