In Vietnam we set the jungle on fire,
The leaves and branches melting like wax,
Candles blown out by blind war
Snuffing out the celebration of life.
In Vietnam we bombed and shot to death
Two million Gooks and Charlies and Viet Cong,
And lost track of the wounded, the maimed,
The mourning that shot through both day and night.
And then we left, and the forests and the people
Rebuilt the way forests and people always do;
But our flag was irretrievable, her sinews
Like a limb half blown-off, dangling in the wind.
The decades ground on. Survivors slept
Submerged in nightmares, a fusillade
Of horror: rotting corpses, raped women,
Rivulets of blood burned into an all-consuming fog.
We saw nothing. We saw everything. We droned on.
We continued to train our weapons:
Iraqis, Afghanis, Somalis, Lebanese, Bosnians, Yemenis,
Libyans, Pakistanis fell into craters Made in America.
Now we’ve enlisted a million fresh flags
To festoon our schools, churches, homes,
And 323 million soldiers to stand for the national anthem,
The rockets and bombs proof that we are neither free nor brave:
No, we are cowards worshiping the God of forsaken ideals.