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Michael D Mullins 


Vietnam in Verse

Kings of the Green Jelly Moon

Out of the Mist

POW / MIA Poster

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© Copyright 2012-2013

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POW/MIA Poster:

I listen each year to various updates and always came away saddened and troubled.  Vietnam is not worse in terms of numbers, but in terms of the promises politicians made it was horrible.  I read somewhere, long ago, that the government committed 4.2 billion dollars to bring POW's home.  They never appropriated the money in the budget.  One night, it came to me as I drove home from work.  There are no answers, only questions.  When I got home, I just sat down and began writing them.  I worked from about 1 a.m. until a bit after 3, and what you see is what I wrote that night.


How can I get where his head has been?
How can I feel what he has felt in his solitary prison?
How can I see what he has seen through his bloodshot eyes?
How can I know what he knows in the marrow of his bone and flesh?

I Cannot.

How can I smell the filth of his body unwashed and bloody?
How can I feel his frayed nerves and pained heart?
How can I taste through his blood and urine?
How Can I sleep on his dank, cold floor?

I cannot.

How can I see through the slits in his four by four box?
How can I touch the splinters of his bamboo bars?
How can I scoop the slop from his metal china?
How can I feel creatures crawl on my skin?

I cannot.

How can I know his absolute loneliness?
How can I see the depth of the abyss into which he has fallen?
How can I know the agony caused by his keeper's boots in his ribs?
How can I feel the sting of lashes as they descend on his decaying flesh?

I cannot.

How can I know the torment of thirst with water so near I can smell it?
How can I know the throbbing in his head when he thinks of home?
How can I feel dry tears run down his face when no tears are left?
How can I feel the desolation that fills the absence of hope?

I cannot. I came home. I am free.

But am I?

As long as he is there am I ever free?
As long as he is imprisoned or missing, am I with him?
Does his spirit cry out to mine asking me to find him somehow?
Have we forsaken him by not demanding more be done than has been?


Does remembering him in prayer and in thought free him somehow?
Does keeping his memory and absence alive pass through time and space?
Can he know it and can he feel it, and know that we care but are as helpless as he?
Is there a chance thoughts penetrate his cell so he knows he is revered in our guilt?

I pray it is so.

Am I, in my own way, a prisoner in my own land, without respect?
Am I a pawn in the hands of false prophets as they disrespect his sacrifice?
Am I weak; unable to bring him home if he lives, as long as only words are said?
If he lives, does he even want to come to a homeland that left him behind and dead?

I am impotent.  All I can offer is the promise that I will never forget.
I cannot feel his pain or know his loneliness and feeling of desertion.
I can tell him I am free but part of me can never be separated from him.
Even if I ignore his plight, I cannot disclaim my country's neglect of him.

It is our guilt.  Remembering is our duty; no matter the war.
But one was worse than all the rest.
It is Vietnam.
In losing him we have lost honor.
In conceding victory we gave up the strength to bring him home.

I am home.
I will always remember.
Am I free?
Part of me can never be free as long as he is there.


Autographed Poster (Direct from Author)