As the title suggests this poem encapsulates the mental torment and images that have plagued the minds of many Vietnam veterans for over 30-40-50 odd years. These images come and go and are triggered by a myriad of stimuli in the physical environment. Or, they may come at night when darkness provides the opportunity for the mind to relax and float with whatever is endeavouring to emerge into consciousness. Sleep may then provide the backdrop for thoughts submerged to erupt into nightmares. Poetry is a vehicle recognised for its cathartic qualities, allowing jumbled thoughts to be coherently united with substance and meaning and thus to give some degree of peace of mind.
“Above all, this book is not concerned with Poetry [as such].
The [real] subject of it is War, and the pity of War;
The Poetry is [in fact] the pity. All a poet can do is warn!”
- Wilfred Owen, 1920.
“Painting is silent poetry:
And poetry is painting ... that speaks!”
- Simonides, 480 B.C.
“The poet puts the right words in the right order so that the colliding of their sounds
and meaning makes your neurones flash like a pinball machine. They snap our
neurone system like a whip. They refresh our vision. They press our re-set button.
They make the colours of the world as vivid as they were when we were children.”
- Alan Alda in Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself, 1997.
O Vietnam! 'Tis thy name!
Yet others may fail to see;
Like an icon, 'tis the same,
In what you signify ..... to me.
Just a sound, a word it seems,
Perhaps a myth or mystery?
Yet conjuring up countless scenes,
Of lingering ..... misery.
At will you come, remain behind,
And walk across my troubled mind,
Late at night ..... incessantly.
Blurred figures adjust, then focus,
In constant creativity;
Flashing murals on canvas,
Stretching out ..... to infinity.
In the darkest corner, waiting,
Lurks your epic artistry;
Tragic apparitions, left hanging,
In an endless ..... gallery.
Like nameless nomads, perhaps lost,
Passing ..... pausing ..... persistently;
Unwelcome squatters for this host,
Entertaining ..... reluctantly.
And these disturbing mental tapes,
Rewind ..... release ..... then roll free;
Scarring ..... changing landscapes,
Of once ..... ephemeral tranquility.
Each gypsy ghost, roams randomly,
Painting ..... painful imagery;
Uninvited, now hauntingly,
Forcing me ..... into poetry.