Three Photographs (from the Vietnam War)

Driving south on Highway 89
along the west shore of Lake Cayuga
from Seneca Falls to Ithaca,
listening to a thin crackle of radio
before it’s lost beyond the hill:

Ken Burns is telling Terry Gross
the story of the Vietnam War
in three photographs —

A South Vietnamese general executing
a suspected North Vietnamese spy
just like walking down the street,
the moment the bullet strikes the brain

(why were we there, taking sides?)

A naked girl on fire, fleeing
her napalmed village

(the futile horrors we inflicted)

A young woman crouched over her dying friend,
shot by the National Guard at Kent State

(the war on our brothers and sisters at home)

and I say we and our because to see the photos
on the front page of every hometown newspaper
made us all complicit in the violence.






About Ray Sharp

Poet, endurance athlete, retired public health planner
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2 Responses to Three Photographs (from the Vietnam War)

  1. kvennarad says:

    “The whole world is watching.”

  2. julietwilson says:

    This is very powerful, I like the simplicity of it and the structure

    I’ve enjoyed reading / re-reading your poems here.

    Thanks for commenting on my blog.

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