Poetry Feature:
'Only the Dead': Vietnam

Editors' Preface
Mark Twain's "War Prayer" (1912)
The End in the Beginning: Quand Diên Biên Phu Tomba
Dawn: Those who wake to it . . .
Noon: Those who reflect in the glare of it . . .
Dusk: Those who engage it in failing light . . .
Midnight: Those who absorbed it.
And for them, boats . . .

Contributors Notes
From Both Sides Now (Anthology)
The Daily Lotus: Selected Buddhist Devotionals

How readers completed the phrase ('Only the dead...')

Only the Dead*
Paul Espel

'Drafted.' That word not heard much anymore.
A war grinding down on the other side of the world.
Got sent to Georgia where no enemy
would ever come ashore. Slogged your way
through groggy heat among the scruffy pines
in soaked-through winter gear -- regulations
stalled the summer change 'til June -- mocked
the mickey-mouseness of it all, fought
fake wars and waited, tallied every day,
cursing bug-thick Georgia. Some went. You stayed.
Did your time. And home. All came home --
some proud, some still defeated. You hear the drone
of cargo planes, with rows of zippered bags,
creased as new and each one neatly tagged.

* . . . have seen the end of war. (Attributed to Plato.)


Photo: Marc Levy