Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rocky's Birthday Thoughts

I had a fantastic birthday in Viet Nam and a good friend of mine wanted me to share some thoughts on this day.  My father fought in Viet Nam in 1968-1969.  As a result of being shot up he had to have a leg amputated and led a life full of physical and mental pain from the shrapnel in his body, PTSD and exposure to Agent Orange.  Yet he was also a man of great love and compassion, passing away from several heart attacks and strokes when I was 16. Below is a poem on my birthday reflections in Dong Ha.

I just finished being hai muoi lam
People ask me why I go back to Viet Nam
For me the personal has always been political
Not an abstract philosophical elliptical
No matter how many socks used or applied baby powder
With each step the pain always got louder
Prosthetic limps can't hide the limp
Never called him a wimp
Even as phantom pains struck like lightning
Hitting each piece of shrapnel is frightening
He used to say "freedom has a price"
But they weren't there when he'd slip on the ice
How many bones can you afford to lack?
Dioxin chemical nightmares
The government never paid that fare
They take the youth
Destroy and twist the truth
Other fathers and sons play ball & run
But taking care of strokes ain't no fun
So I jumped head first into the Mekong Delta
Trying to understand the hand that delt ya
At an early age I knew hell isn't a place underground far
And heaven isn't up next to a star
Simultaneously coexisting right here
Embracing the tension became clear
Constantly unveiling the layers
Figuring out the key players
"Let's move forward and be friends"
Is what I heard here...bends
Your heart and mind
Stripping the fruit from the vine
Let's learn and love one another...?
It wasn't just a voice from my own mother
But foreign young and old alike
Shattering every preconceived fright
So I come to search for the ghost of my old man
And tell him I have a new plan
Plant trees where bombs maimed
Where American and Vietnamese came
I come to leave a token
For the dead and living, smokin
An incense prayer
That before the dawn
We can unite and be strong
Reality is not a static fatality
Where we come from shifts
Tectonic plates can rift
When we shed the scales off our eyes
Slowly stripping down the lies I do apologize
I come in hope of a dream
That washes our blood & tears away in a Mississippi or a Red River Stream
Where tomorrow is brighter than yesterday's jelly napalm
Learning the rights from the wrongs
This is why I come back
So you and I won't lack
The necessary compassion needed to combat
Ignorance in all its shapes and sizes
Sharing with each other our greatest prizes.

Rocky Block

1 comment:

  1. Rocky, thanks for the birthday thoughts, a look into your soul... pretty interesting, very deep. I'm so very proud of you and your journey.
    Love, Mom