Guest poem sent in by amulya gopalakrishnan
(Poem #1214) On Being Asked to Write a Poem Against the War in Vietnam
Well I have and in fact more than one and I'll tell you this too I wrote one against Algeria that nightmare and another against Korea and another against the one I was in and I don't remember how many against the three when I was a boy Abyssinia Spain and Harlan County and not one breath was restored to one shattered throat mans womans or childs not one not one but death went on and on never looking aside except now and then with a furtive half-smile to make sure I was noticing.
Poems on war sometimes seem so useless and uncalled for, like flinging bits of confetti at this pitiless juggernaut. This poem sort of captures that, right from the throwaway tone it begins with to the bland monstrousness of the end. Amulya [Martin adds] This is indeed a brilliant poem, but its very brilliance serves to mask an underlying fallacy. The purpose of war poetry is not so much to "restore breath to one shattered throat", but to show people what exactly war is, in a way that the safely sanitised capsules delivered by newspapers and television cannot or do not. "The pity of war, the pity war distilled" needs to be adequately conveyed to the populace-at-large, and I submit that poets, as much as anyone else, have served to counteract the "dulce et decorum est" blood-and-glory mindset of an earlier day. martin