Demilitarized Zones: Excerpt from a poem by Doug Rawlings

Stanza from: Demilitarized Zones by Doug Rawlings

They came to torture us
these children of the dust
to torture us
with their eyes
with their lies
with the hatred in their eyes
the ice in their smiles
the wretchedness of their lives

This is a stanza from a long and beautiful poem written by Vietnam Veteran Doug Rawlings.  The poem is entitled: Demilitarized Zones.  The poem takes us through various aspects of the aftermath and relationships that mark the American/Vietnamese relationship.

The above stanza refers to “children of the dust.”  This is the English translation of bụi đời – which refers to Amerasian street children who had become, and still are considered a thorn in Vietnam as they are reminders of the Americans who came and left.  Betrayed twice.

It must be remembered that although many Amerasian children and infants, whether adopted or not, whether in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Japan, Okinawa, Korea, Philippines, or Guam, etc. have multiple experiences that do not erase trauma, nor is all of it trauma.  But the dream of those whose lives marked dominant scorn and exclusion, or at best, ignorance, the struggle must be healed.  One such way is for pain to be expressed.  More importantly, each of us might attempt to acknowledge and not hide from the painful experiences of being the targets of prejudice, which often includes poverty, loneliness, violence, betrayal, distrust, without the benefit of laws to protect.  For this memory, the water children of the Black Pacific dream.

Poems such as this, as are works of memory and telling and resistance that marks this entire website in its diversity, are some of the ways in which the Black Pacific lives.

This stanza is taken from the wonderful collection of poetry:  Radical Visions: Poetry by Vietnam Veterans, edited by Vince Gotera, March 1994, University of Georgia Press.

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