Saturday, April 19, 2008


Reading in the newspapers and on internet sites this past week, I see there is concern in our country that 1 in 5 returning veterans of the current war(s) have mental problems.

Sometimes, it is reported, due to serious head injuries.

Yet is it not the case, if we are to be honest, that at least that many, if not more, had problems of a psychological, cognitive, and/or behavioral nature prior to enlistment? (*)

Of course such a thing as post-traumatic stress exists; always did. It exists as much as what war-mongering creeps and their toadies call "collateral damage" to justify the murder of thousands of children and innocent people in the name of peace. It was Allen Ginsberg, in his great poem, "Wichita Vortex Sutra" who first pointed out what he called the invention of "black magic language" - which was used to justify slaughter.

It was Charles Bukowski (in the fifth and final volume of his posthumous poems, The People Look Like Flowers At Last, 2007, paperback 2008, (perhaps not the strongest of his work, but the most vulnerable, the most moving, the most compassionate) - with an author photograh by Linda Lee Bukowski, edited by John Martin with a cover illustration by Barbara Martin, and a surprising back-cover blurb by Billy Collins) who wrote a poem titled "the elephants of Vietnam" which I am pirating here:

first they used to, he told me,
gun and bomb the elephants,
you could hear their screams over all the other sounds;
but you flew high to bomb the people,
you never saw it,
just a little flash from way up
but with the elephants
you could watch it happen
and hear how they screamed;
i'd tell my buddies, listen, you guys
stop that,
but they just laughed
as the elephants scattered
throwing up their trunks (if they weren't blown off)
opening their mouths
wide and
kicking their dumb clumsy legs
as blood ran out of big holes in their bellies.

then we'd fly back,
mission completed.
we'd get everything:
convoys, dumps, bridges, people, elephants and
all the rest.

he told me later, I
felt bad about the

(*) And YAHOO reports today (April 21) that the army and marines have "sharply" raised the
number of recruits with felony convictions admitted to the services....Felonies of enlistees include sex crimes, manslaughter, aggravated assault, armed robbery, vehicular homicide, etc.