Friday, March 7, 2014

Special Feature Collaborative Poem--By Carolyn Devonshire and Tim Ryerson--United States

Vietnam's Unwelcome Heroes

By Carolyn Devonshire and Tim Ryerson

We gave Johnny a gun and a uniform
Trained him to kill, in a regiment conform
Sent him deep into Vietnam jungles warm
With little regard to how we did him harm

So certain we knew what we joined to fight for
We were shipped off to fight an unwinnable war
A war of "containment," unlike those before
Mothers screamed, fathers wept, siblings ached to the core

By parachute dropped to a ghastly death scene
Johnny ached for the life left behind, so serene
His family, fiancé did not know what war means
Especially the haunting of lost children's screams

Those of us who survived thought we'd just done our jobs
We returned and were shamed by violent gobs
Of silver-spoon rich kids in hate-spewing mobs
Spat-on and welcomed as baby-killer slobs

No heroes welcome would await these young men
No ticker-tape parades were staged for them
Just jeers from crowds, uncaring government
Greeted the lonely Vietnam Veteran

Too classy and noble to demand our fair share
We lay in that shabby old hospital there
In a closet-sized room with no visitors' chair
Understaffed, under funded, with short-handed care

The "benefits" they found would astound all now
And it leaves one to wonder how our hallowed ground
Would be filled with unnamed graves of men once proud
Before the rows of white crosses we should bow

Our Wailing-Wall stands now in Washington, D.C.
So shiny but black, a telling-tale of the fee
We have paid for our nation, our land of the free
Will you come pay respects? Will you not at last see?

Some veterans still suffer disgraceful neglect
So please explain who more deserves our respect
Let us pause with angelic choirs and genuflect
To show gratitude as on this Wall we reflect


  1. The war that was never a war, so many still suffer. Well said.

  2. Thank you Carolyn and Tim, I will have to read this to my Vietnam Veteran husband. That someone still cares will touch his soul. This was well written and said. He is still paying the price of that war. PTSD and severe depression plagues him still.
    Love, Charlene

  3. You say it well Caarolyn and Tim. So many went to that war and came home with permanent emotional burdens. My nephew was one. My brother was there also.
    I left the army to attend college or I would have been flying helicopters there. Your poem is right on target, thanks for posting this well written story. Robert

  4. Thank you, Charlene and Robert. Tim was a Vietnam Veteran. My cousin came home a changed man. We do still care, Charlene. Even though the war was never officially "decared," it was a dark period of American history.

  5. War is ugly, its results are ugly, its reasons are ugly, its debris is ugly. We teach our children to "not fight" - that lie is ugly............... we raise them to become pawns in this diabolical chess game that finally if they aren't a dead hero they are an abandoned one.............

  6. Nicely written, you two. Certainly a painful scar on American history - and, unfortunately not the only one and not the last one. It is important, I think, that we never forget these past actions and the victims who still pay the consequences. Poems like this, especially ones so well-written, help ensure that we remember and, perhaps, that the lesson learned will sink in.

  7. So poignantly said. A needed reminder for our country that many still suffer wounds that can't be seen. Yes, we must be more mindful of the sacrifices that have been made and are still being made for our freedom. Thank you for such a piercing piece to stir our hearts.

  8. Dear Carolyn and Tim,

    Although I was child when Vietnam War was going on I remember seeing news reports about it and how the soldiers were treated over there and especially when they came home. It wasn't until I grew older and learned more about the history of that war how horrific it was for those soldiers. My heart goes out to the Veterans who still suffer to this day. A very important poem to teach the younger generation of the horrors of war. Well done!

    Sandra Stefanowich

  9. Thank you, Jack Horne, for the following comment--

    Carolyn and Tim - wow, such a powerful write. I don’t know much about the war in Vietnam (we didn’t even cover that at school), but this says it all.

  10. Exceptional write by two of my favorite poets. Thank you Carolyn and Tim for writing and submitting this. Love to you both, Carol Brown

    1. Dear Carol,
      It is so nice to see you on Whispers. I hope to see your poetry posted here soon! Love always, Carolyn

    2. My dear friend Carol Brown - It is SO nice to hear from you again! I have missed you and your poetry...You were the very first to welcome me to Poetry Soup and I will NEVER forget that! - Tim Ryerson

  11. Vietnam touched me deeply although I had no one in that war. It was so senceless, costly and our military went through hell. Today, I still can't watch anything about Vietnam - for it causes me emotional stress instantly...

    Rhoda Galgiani

  12. Greatful and humble thanks for publishing this Karen

    1. This is a wonderful poem--my pleasure to publish it Tim and Carolyn. Thank you for sharing it.


  13. A very well written heartfelt write. how terrible. I'm overcome with emotion. just so sad. thank you for sharing and caring. my best wishes. Peter Dome.

  14. Thank you, Joe Maverick, for the following comment--

    Dear Carolyn I have been reading the collaborative poem, you did with Tim, It almost seems like a dream now those old newsreel clips the objectives and reasons, and then the silence almost that followed.' It is good to renew peoples awareness of such times, you never know maybe someday the world will really try the way of peace.

  15. Dear Carolyn and Tim -

    My stomach is sinking as I think of the heroes all of them, my friends and contemporaries, and that little napalmed girl. I can never understand the horror - just bow my head. To return to more hostility is a sin. How does one blame the soldiers for the war? Any GI scholarships you know of? For those who came home - the tentacles are still with them.

    You two have co-written this with such feeling as the soul of one.

    xxx's ooo's

    1. Dear Kathryn,
      I remmember the photo of that little girl. It's caught in my mind and will never escape. If only we could live to see a world at peace...

  16. And yet another great collab. I'm really starting to enjoy these pairings. Awesome job to the both of you. Continued blessings!

    -Maurice J. Reynolds, Owner / Editor
    TGBTG! Publications / Creative Inspirations

    1. Thank you, Maurice. I am so pleased you had a chance to read this poem. I know the war was before your time, but those of us who lived through it know how it changed our lives. Blessings, Carolyn