Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login
Lancaster Pennsylvania.
July 3rd, 1978.
Five pm.
Eighty-two degrees outside.
Driving sixty eight mph down Millersville road
past miles of cornfields
And everything is silent.
Except the faint scream of wind escaping through the cracked driver side window
and the dull thud of tire treading on the newly paved road.
He is
trying to understand,
while trying not to think,
while thinking too much,
while being silent.
And suddenly its
March of 1968
And Calley is calling
“kill them all dead”.
And he sees his daughter,
her Agent Orange colored curls
clinging to her face like napalm sticks to melting bodies;
her eyes burning brighter than Hanoi and Haiphong on December 18th, 1972.
He begins to cry
because its still
July 3rd, 1978,
Five pm, and
eighty-two degrees outside.
But in his mind it will always be March of 1968
or December of 1972,
because for him the war is still being fought;
monks and Morrison still burning;
Saigon is still screaming
like it was on April 30, 1975,
but everyone else just hears silence.
My grandfather has every day of the Vietnam War
tattooed on his body
so whenever somebody asks the question:
“What’s wrong?”
he can simply lift up his calloused hands
to their face
and remain silent.
Because the silent majority doesn’t really want to hear
a tour of duties worth of realities.
So instead he drives down Millersville road,
some morphine in his blood stream,
trying to forget thirty years,
ten thousand nine hundred and fifty days.
Everyday another bombing,
another hundred dead.
Just another everyday.
Something people don’t remember,
but my grandfather can’t forget.
Mother Teresa once said
“God is a friend of silence”,
but my grandfather found no
angels in his unspoken words,
just another thousand truths
that the bible never spoke of.
No God, no glory, just guts and guns.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau equated silence to the “image of death”.
The image so many little Vietnamese boys and girls saw instead of soldiers.
The image of the soldier my grandfather saw in the mirror.
The image of death.
The embodiment of death.
The bodies of boys in burning black pajamas.
The reason my grandfather can’t sleep at night.
The reason thousands of others can’t sleep at night.
The reason I mourn for
every single silence that has been hung over something remarkable.
See my grandfather is anything but death.
He is remarkable.
He is suffering.
He is the smell of summer strawberries,
and the memory of a young boy
born on a farm in Lancaster Pennsylvania,
on July 14th, 1943,
to a Mennonite mother
and an alcoholic father.
I could describe his life with thousands verisimilitudes,
just like every other tin soldier forced to fight in 1968.
Just like every other soldier who was everything besides a fighter.
I have inherited his stories
and I could tell them all
to anybody who would listen.
Maybe then,
I could finally break the silence.
I just now wrote this piece as a component of a project for AP US History/AP English.
(The title "Driving Miss Emma" is a slang term for injecting morphine, a drug often abused by Vietnam war veterans.) Here's the reflection that goes with it: Reflection on Vietnam War Spoken Word Poem

I wanted this poem to capture a lot of things that characterized the aftermath of the Vietnam War like drug abuse, PTSD, the treatment of soldiers returning from war, etc., but most importantly I wanted to focus on silence and story telling.
I wanted to use juxtaposition between the silence described in the poem and the fact that it is a spoken word piece, I wanted to use that contrast to help further the listeners understanding. I also wanted to reflect Norman Bowkers silence with my grandfathers.
I used elements of O’Brien’s (The Things They Carried) story truth and happening truth, because I wrote this based very loosely on my grandfather even though he is the main focus of the piece. He wasn’t at My Lai or Saigon and he didn’t abuse drugs or things like that, but in a way, he did all those things without doing them; he suffered the aftermath of the war just like others, but differently. I also wanted to comment on the fact that you don’t have to be a soldier actively participating in something to feel the guilt or the shame of it (i.e. sharing the guilt).
I wanted it to be a story; my grandfather’s story without really being his story because it doesn’t matter what the date or the temperature was, it can be made up and still mean something. I tried to embed a lot of facts, dates, times, temperatures, etc., because I wanted them to be overbearing in the piece to comment on how many days there were in the war that some people don’t think about at all and others remember every detail of. It’s all about perspective. I wanted to add so many details, or verisimilitude, to make it feel powerful, because I can’t imagine living as a veteran after the war, and this is the closest way I could come to making it feel real.

(One judge at the slam competition last night gave me a 9.8/10 for this poem and it made me feel really great)
Add a Comment:
 

Daily Deviation

Given 2013-05-28
~PeppermintPictures captures the aftereffects of the Vietnam War in the slam piece Grandfather. ( Suggested by sincebecomeswhy and Featured by neurotype )
:iconpomohippie7:
pomohippie7 Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2013   Writer
Your wonderful work has been showcased here: fav.me/d707vjx
Reply
:iconpeppermintpictures:
PeppermintPictures Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you so much! And have a wonderful New Year :) 
Reply
:iconpomohippie7:
pomohippie7 Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2014   Writer
You're very welcome! :heart: I hope your New Year's is wonderful as well! :)
Reply
:iconxnorthwindx:
xNorthwindx Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2013  Professional Photographer
This is really something. Like you, my grandfather also served in Vietnam. He was drafted and served 2 or 3 years over there. He doesn't talk about it much, all he ever really said is that he drove APCs (Armored Personnel carriers) and that he was a private. But other than that, he doesn't like to talk about it. I will say he is more open than some other Vietnam vets, and thankfully (as far as I know) he didn't come back with PTSD. I know he was proud to serve his country, even though the we Americans hated them when they came home. I'm glad we support our troops now. My brother is in the Army, and is going to be deployed to Afganistan next year. Its nice to see random people come up and thank him for his service. 

Anyway, this is a really good poem. You really nailed it.
Reply
:iconpeppermintpictures:
PeppermintPictures Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
It makes me so happy to know that you can relate to this piece. Both your grandfather and your brother sound like fantastic and strong people. It takes a lot to risk your life for something you believe in. 

Thank you so much :)
Reply
:iconcristinewakesuphappy:
cristinewakesuphappy Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
:+fav:


i hope you don't mind my humble feature:
your lovely piece is handpicked.


thank you,

:bow:
Reply
:iconpeppermintpictures:
PeppermintPictures Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Wow, thank you!
Reply
:icon6blackrose6:
6blackrose6 Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2013
Beautiful. I read lately a lot about Pstd and war and thought about how a countries fate can influence generations for decades after the war has ended. I think you found a great way to pick up such thoughts and feelings in your poem.
Reply
:iconpeppermintpictures:
PeppermintPictures Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you so much!
Reply
:iconshadowedacolyte:
ShadowedAcolyte Featured By Owner May 28, 2013
This is quite solid--lots going on here, all of it evocative and sometimes gripping. "tour of duties worth of realities" is an excellent line--that will stick.
Reply
:iconpeppermintpictures:
PeppermintPictures Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks, I was afraid that the chaos of it would make it a little too much, but I'm glad you like it. 
Reply
:iconxlntwtch:
xlntwtch Featured By Owner May 28, 2013   Writer
:iconcongratsddplz: ..a little late. I know I'd have loved to see you perform this at the slam you mention, and you should be very proud, not only of a Daily Deviation, but especially of that 9.8 out of 10 a judge gave you after you slammed it. You made it feel real alright, and the facts and details make this beg to be read aloud. So I will. Thank you. :+fav:
Reply
:iconpeppermintpictures:
PeppermintPictures Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Wow, thank you so much. You have no idea how much your kind words mean :)
Reply
:iconxlntwtch:
xlntwtch Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2013   Writer
You're very welcome. Maybe I have "no idea," but I was glad to write them. :heart:
Reply
:iconthegalleryofeve:
TheGalleryOfEve Featured By Owner May 28, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Congratulations on your well-deserved DD!!! :iconflyingheartsplz::iconlainloveplz::iconflyingheartsplz: :clap::clap::clap:
Reply
:iconpeppermintpictures:
PeppermintPictures Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you so much!
Reply
:iconthegalleryofeve:
TheGalleryOfEve Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
:iconflyingheartsplz::blowkiss::iconflyingheartsplz:
Reply
:iconrunty:
runty Featured By Owner May 28, 2013  Student General Artist
So full of emotions and images of war, and memories of them...

Very beautifully written :heart:
Reply
:iconpeppermintpictures:
PeppermintPictures Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you!
Reply
:iconkarinta:
Karinta Featured By Owner May 28, 2013  Student General Artist
Wow. It's truly a striking poem, and perfect for today.



:huggle:
Reply
:iconpeppermintpictures:
PeppermintPictures Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I'm glad you liked it :)
Reply
:iconew-boi:
Ew-boi Featured By Owner May 28, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
I'm impressed.
Reply
:iconpeppermintpictures:
PeppermintPictures Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks!
Reply
:iconchibi-dani111:
chibi-dani111 Featured By Owner May 28, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Congrats for the DD, it really deserves it! It's a truly moving poem, and it drove me to tears, which very few poems do, so I would give you a 10/10 if I had been that judge. It's a job well done!
Reply
:iconpeppermintpictures:
PeppermintPictures Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you! I'm so glad that something I wrote had the power to move you. I didn't know my poetry was capable of something so amazing. Thanks :)
Reply
:iconshawnthewolf12:
shawnthewolf12 Featured By Owner May 28, 2013
XD very good!
Reply
:iconpeppermintpictures:
PeppermintPictures Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks :)
Reply
:iconshawnthewolf12:
shawnthewolf12 Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2013
XD you dont happen to have a funeral poem or two, do you?
Reply
:iconpeppermintpictures:
PeppermintPictures Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I've just recently written a little about my grandfathers funeral, but I don't really have any poems with funerals as the center idea, sorry. 
Reply
:iconshawnthewolf12:
shawnthewolf12 Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2013
May I see what you have written already?
Reply
:iconpeppermintpictures:
PeppermintPictures Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
One of my most recent pieces titled Astronaut deals with a funeral, but it's mostly about anxiety. I think it's the only thing I have right now. 
Reply
:iconryanisnasty:
ryanisnasty Featured By Owner May 28, 2013
Congratulations on the well deserved DD!
:huggle:
Reply
:iconpeppermintpictures:
PeppermintPictures Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you!
Reply
:iconeuxiom:
Euxiom Featured By Owner May 28, 2013
Awesome work.
Reply
:iconpeppermintpictures:
PeppermintPictures Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you!
Reply
:iconeuxiom:
Euxiom Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2013
Welcome :)
Reply
:iconjenndixonphotography:
This is amazing. What caught my eye is the location in the poem. It's local for me. It reminds me that friends and neighbors have experienced this sort of pain.
Reply
:iconpeppermintpictures:
PeppermintPictures Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
That's so cool. Another poet I know grew up in the same place. The location was very important for me and for the poem. I'm glad you enjoyed it :)
Reply
:iconbreakdown-transfp:
Breakdown-TransFP Featured By Owner May 28, 2013
(( AMAZING~!!! I LOVE IT~!!!!!))
Reply
:iconpeppermintpictures:
PeppermintPictures Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you so much! :)
Reply
:iconbreakdown-transfp:
Breakdown-TransFP Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2013
(( You're welcome!!!! ^_^ ))
Reply
:iconalkraas:
Alkraas Featured By Owner May 28, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Congratulations on your Daily Deviation :squee:
Reply
:iconpeppermintpictures:
PeppermintPictures Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks! :D
Reply
:iconkori-hibana:
kori-hibana Featured By Owner May 28, 2013  Student General Artist
absolutely wonderful; I love the contrast within the piece, yet it all flows smoothly together
Reply
:iconpeppermintpictures:
PeppermintPictures Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you. I have trouble with transitions, so it's nice to know that the poem flowed well :)
Reply
:iconrkelc:
rkelc Featured By Owner May 28, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Amazing work. I love your use of story truth and happening truth like in The Things They Carried. My father has PTSD from Vietnam, and although this does not reflect his exact story (like your grandfather), I think it does a great job of reflecting the overall story for many soldiers who were there, while making people understand what it was/is like for them.
Reply
:iconpeppermintpictures:
PeppermintPictures Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you! The book definitely inspired me to investigate my ability at experimenting with story truth. It really means something when people who actually have had experiences with this or who have relatives who have experienced it connect to the poem. I didn't want it to be cliche or romanticized or demonizing; I wanted it to tell a story. It means a lot that you liked it. 
Reply
:iconmonstroooo:
monstroooo Featured By Owner May 28, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Ah, congrats on the DD! So pleased to see that this has done well :)
Reply
:iconpeppermintpictures:
PeppermintPictures Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you! :)
Reply
:iconmeihua:
meihua Featured By Owner May 28, 2013
Beautifully written, a well-deserved DD :clap:
Reply
Add a Comment:
 
×

:iconpeppermintpictures: More from PeppermintPictures


Featured in Collections

GOOD LITERATURE Y'KNOW by kuku88

poetry by puffballinthedark

Beautiful Writings by TheGalleryOfEve


More from DeviantArt



Details

Submitted on
April 11, 2013
File Size
3.4 KB
Thumb

Stats

Views
2,602
Favourites
156 (who?)
Comments
71
×