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[Poetics] Seeing Ghosts in Vietnam ~ Two Poems by John Aller

Old Ghosts

Old ghosts wandering the streets of old Saigon

Lost spirits of the dead

Died during the endless wars

Ghostly apparitions around every corner

Here was Kilroy and his gang of soldiers

Over there were the Viet Cong waiting to kill them

Saigon is filled with memories like that

Terrible times were had here in Old Saigon

Silently the ghosts parade the city streets

Ghosts of Chu Chi

Crawling down the tunnels

Of Chu Chi

I could almost imagine

The Viet Kong guerillas

Hiding deep under the tunnels

As the land above is turned

Into a temporary dessert

With the vegetation burned off

By napalm and agent orange

The Viet Kong creep out at night

Stealing onto the bases

Stealing weapons, food, supplies

And occasionally killing soldiers

In their sleep

The US soldiers

Stay on base at night

Terrified of the mosquitos

And of the Viet Kong

the ghosts

Surround me

Telling me their stories

And at last I fled

Through the emergency escape tunnel

Declaring victory

Profoundly shaken up

By the ghosts of the Chu Chi tunnels

John (“Jake”) Cosmos Aller is a novelist, poet, and former Foreign Service officer having served 27 years with the U.S. State Department serving in ten countries - (Korea, Thailand, India, the Eastern Caribbean (lived in Barbados but covering Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts, St Lucia, and St Vincent) and Spain, and traveled to 50 countries, and 49 out of 50 States.  Prior to joining the Foreign Service, he taught overseas for five years and served in the Peace Corps in Korea.  He has an MPA and MA degree (Korean studies) from the University of Washington in Seattle.  He has written four novels, 900 poems, and 50 short stories.  His work has appeared in over 25 literary journals. 


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