Saturday, August 2, 2008

Land of a Million Elephants

In this land
of a million elephants
The sun swims through
the heavy mist
like divinatory crystals
falling on wrinkled men
toiling for hidden landmines
in this lush countryside
and Buddhist monks glide
like brilliant orange brushstrokes
across a gray canvas bringing
beacons of hope
to roadside villages
of the armless
and the legless
still paying the price
for our secret war
as the tattered scraps
of our bombs of liberty
and idealism adorn
their doorways.

From 1964 through 1973, this impoverished, landlocked country endured one of history's heaviest bombing campaigns. During the war, the US conducted 580,000 bombing runs over Laos - one every 9 minutes for 10 years. (it is hard for me to wrap my mind around this, being bombed every 9 minutes for 10 years) It is estimated that over 2 million tons of ordnance was unloaded on the countryside, double the amount dropped on Nazi Germany in World War II.

To this day, Laos (Vietnam's neighbor to the west) continues to be considered the most heavily bombed country in the entire world.


paisley said...

thank you for the beautiful heartfelt words,, and the back story there in the end... something i am sure the majority of us have forgotten all about... this was very powerful...

Jackie said...

I love your pacifism - how beautiful your words are.. You brought tears to my eyes.

Wonderful my friend

Nathan said...

A great poem. And your note -- something that should be taught to every student in every high school.

jyotsana said...

this made me sad ... i wasnt aware of it this way...powerful words to say it all...may god bless our earth with peace....peace in every heart...peace in every land.