Guilt Trip
by Bill Arthrell

For 35 years
Vietnam has been my past.
Since Diem was overthrown,
I was in the 9th grade
& was awakened by the Buddha
in my American History teacher.

Now I sit on Thai Airways Flight 712
and wait for Vietnam
to become my Future.

I arrive in Ho Chi Minh City
under darkness
of my National Shame.
I disboard on landing field
at Napalm Dusk.
Ceremoniously I kiss the ground
of a nation
that has always been more of a body count
than a nation.

Taxi whisks me through streets
of Saigon blur.
I remember Walter Cronkite
-interrupting pork chop tv dinner
every night
with 600 clicks of Pentagon Death
on Peace-With-Honor Teletype Machine.

Exit taxi
meet lovely 2 Vietnamese Girls.
They are strategic hamlet programs
forcibly removed from their hearts
to monitor the beat
of their Viet Cong sympathies.

I open my eyes
and there's bomb craters in them
as I speak these tears,
"I'm so sorry what my country
did to yours."

Viet girls burst into directions
to my hotel
& I burst into anti-aircraft sorrow
weeping my Vietnam-Life-Time
of M-16s & B-52s.

These letters & numbers
carry me to my liotel
where they don't know
Bill Arthrell has returned froin battlefields
of Chicago, D.C., Kent State.

They think  I'm veteran
from Charlie Company
blowing the Khe Sanh
off Country Joe MDonald's Fixin' to Die Rag.

But, I tell them Anti-War Stories
from the Americong ...
"I went to jail 12 times,
I went to jail 11 times"
as the countdown to my incarceration
reaches down
to pick up a pineapple bomb
that blew off my taxi-driver's-

blew him off
blew her off
blew them all off
like dominoes

dominoes that never stop falling
as Vietnamese children even today
are born with Cerebral Palsey
because U.S. Agent Orange
engineered genetics
of Forever War.

Defoliated Jungle of Shame
visits my hotel room.
It is not enough
to push me out
into Lt. Calley's rice paddy
of Guilt.

I'm afraid to exit.
I'm paralyzed by fear
because Vietnam, out that door
was paralyzed by America.

We did to the Vietnamese
what we did to the Native Americans
the Africans, even poor immigrant Crandpa
from England.

We did it
and I stood by
with a placard for peace, a stone for ROTC
a middle finger for Nixon.

Page 2 of Guilt Trip the poem
Back to Preface
Collage by Mike

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