The Path of Least Resistance
I prefer “welcome home” to “thank you for your service”.
Agreeing to be used in Viet Nam was a choice
containing the benefit of less pain,
an easier path, avoiding jail, and not having to change my country
at a cost of a gnawing dissonance
grating on ears and conscience
like an open G chord on my guitar with one untuned string
on this fiftieth anniversary of My Lai
for every person ambushed, bombed, shot for no reason or made homeless
for every veteran who has taken his own life.
And realizing, at the Wall in Washington, when other veterans and I
met with a delegation of Vietnamese who had asked us to join them
in a humble request that our country assist them with the effects of Agent Orange,
not knowing that Veterans for Peace is a very small organization with no power
that a Wall to honor the Vietnamese dead would have to stretch 100 miles
from this wall to my family’s kitchen table in Richmond, Virginia
where my dad, a combat veteran of World War II
advised me not to join the army
because this thing just didn’t look right,
and because those people never did anything to us.