Wednesday, December 10, 2008

December, 1972


Of the forty or so poems I have written over the years and stuck into a drawer, that is the title of the first one. In 1972, I was 31 years old. I had been honorably discharged from the United States Air Force seven years before. I was married and the father of three children. I had not been part of the generation of youth who had taken to the streets to protest our country’s participation in the Vietnam War. One evening, while watching the news on television, I heard the newscaster -- Howard K. Smith, Harry Reasoner, I can’t remember who it was -- end a story about the Christmas shopping season with the words, “Peace on earth, good will toward men.” Then, after the slightest of pauses, he began the next story with the words, “They’re bombing North Vietnam again.” I was startled to hear two such opposite thoughts juxtaposed, and with end rhyme, no less. Something clicked in my brain. After letting my thoughts simmer for a few days, the poem almost wrote itself. It has not been published until now.


December, 1972

Peace on earth, good will toward men.
They’re bombing North Vietnam again -–
B-52s lost this month total ten -–
Peace on earth, good will toward men.

It came upon a midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
Yellow-skinned children huddle in fear
Against the wind and the cold
And wonder what new horror
Will the midnight blackness bring,
And the whole earth gives back the song
Which now the angels sing.

Silent night, holy night,
Napalm gives a lovely light;
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
How does it feel to destroy a child?

Has Johnny talked to Santa Claus?
They’re talking about a bombing pause.
Inaugural plans are proceeding well;
Pat will wear yellow. War is hell.
Do you think man has an immortal soul?
Do you think they’ll blackout the Super Bowl?

Peace on earth, good will toward men.
They’re bombing North Vietnam again -–
B-52s lost this month total ten -–
Peace on earth, good will toward men.

3 comments:

Pat - An Arkansas Stamper said...

You're a poet. 'Nuf said.

Egghead said...

Wow!! Sobering to say the least. Very good poem.

Putz said...

egghead knows talent when she see's, or hear's or smells it