Originally published as "To the People of Vietnam" in Freedomways
7(1) Winter 1967. Subsequently retitled and republished in the Adelphi Quarterly
(Summer 1967) as "To A Dark-Skinned People" and later included in the collection
Henry at the Grating. Currently available in
Wicked Times: Selected Poems
by Aaron Kramer (University of Illinois Press, July 2004), edited and with a biographical
essay by Cary Nelson and Donald Gilzinger, Jr.
To The People Of Vietnam
by Aaron Kramer
You are the latest on a list of shame
that shadows me: a dark inheritance
since first the European cast his glance
westward, and gave his greed a lofty name.
Cloven the footprint of his proud advance;
rabid his torch that fouled the nights with flame;
the soil was rich enough before he came,
his flesh of tribes he fed his plants.
Roll him aside! Oh send him reeling home!
Oh let his hot mouth know for once the taste
of ruin! Thought the Pequot long is dumb,
the Mexic towers long toppled, and erased
the Tagal might—through me those radiant ghosts
beg vengeance of you, bless you at your posts.