Vietnam 1972

A Poem by Shirley Skufca Hickman

We cannot see the red blood
pouring from the wounds
on black and white TV.
The commentator’s voice
drowns death sounds
from our Asian war.

We sit at tables full of
ham and peas, and bread
and glance at war
between each bite of food.

We’re reassured that only ten
were killed, and more of
theirs were killed than ours,

That man we see is
not an actor on a TV screen
who spits out fake blood
in a show of death.
His terror and his pain are real.

But when that haggard face
looks like someone we know
or makes us feel or flinch,
we switch the channel
to some other show where
we won’t be involved, or care.

And while we watch the
latest football game
with feet propped up
and cool Budweiser in our hands,
that young face that we saw before,
lies covered by a sheet.

But still the war goes on,
and on
and on,
and every night at six o’clock
we watch it,
for a little while.

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