Ken Burns is bringing up the Vietnam War
It’s a documentary with a soundtrack to die for:
Nine Inch Nails and Yo Yo Ma, Ray Charles and CCR.
18 hours to cover a war of 20 years and 180 days.
Or 19 years, depending on who you ask, picking up
Shortly after the end of the French at Dien Bien Phu.
For the occasion,
I filmed a poem of mine this summer that someone found again,
One I wrote in 2002 as I remembered a visit in November, 1997
In Missoula among Hmong veterans while searching for my family.
It’s a long story.
A poem doesn’t give you much time to talk about Secret Wars
Or valkyries, spectres or the secret stories behind the codenames
Of Company men like Hog and Kayak, Black Lion or Mr. Clean.
I hold old photographs in my hand, I click through digital faces
Salvaged from old legionnaire estate sales, dying photographers
Who thought I might like to know what they saw in my lost jungles.
It’s the closest I get to a time machine, with no way to change
The present, but possibly the future. Still, I’ve said this to you before.
In writing this, Time stops being a one-way river, less a bamboo Styx.
1,080 minutes is all of the time they think we can spare
Forty years later on a war that never ended for many of us,
Our voices fleeting smoke they try to box into a neat package,
Believed a bygone era we’ll never relive again, Buddhist ideas aside.