The Wall

POETRY FORMAT, 20 Nov 2017

Doug Rawlings – TRANSCEND Media Service

Vietnam War: what to take away? An admiration for the heroism of Americans and Vietnamese caught up in a grotesque, immoral, unjust war, just trying to survive? Disgust at the venality of the old men in the background pulling the strings? A deep, abiding cynicism as we look into the future of our country? What? I dunno. I wrote The Wall in 1986 after visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in DC for the first time.

Descending into this declivity
dug into our nation’s capital
by the cloven hoof
of yet another one of our country’s
tropical wars

Slipping past the names of those
whose wounds
refuse to heal

Slipping past the panel where
my name would have been
could have been
perhaps should have been

Down to The Wall’s greatest depth
where the beginning meets the end
I kneel

Staring through my own reflection
beyond the names of those
who died so young

Knowing now that The Wall
has finally found me –
58,000 thousand-yard stares
have fixed on me
as if I were their Pole Star
as if I could guide their mute testimony
back into the world
as if I could connect all those dots
in the nighttime sky

As if I could tell them
the reason why


Doug Rawlings is one of the founders of Veterans for Peace.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 20 Nov 2017.

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