After the storm, after the rain stopped pounding,
Okay. The storm stopped pounding.
But still the branches are wire
So I can keep on living,
But the lie swings back again.
Copyright 1988 by Bruce Weigl
The basic story line of Song of Napalm follows a Viet Nam soldiers' recollections of a scene he once saw. His mind tries to distort the image of a woman getting bombed with napalm into a pleasant scene. The effort to make the scene pleasurable is the mind's way of trying to protect itself from the horrific incident that actually happened. Bruce is trying to shelter his psyche from the debilitating effects of war. But in the end, he cannot maintain the self-deception, and must face the cold, hard truth.
The truth makes Bruce feel dirty next to his wife. He wants to try to make his memories of Viet Nam clean so that he can feel better being with her.
Patience Mason writes: "I see the poem as a straight narrative of what it is like to live with memories like that. He doesn't feel dirty. He has flashbacks triggered by rain and thunder and lightning and she wants him to be over it because she doesn't understand. He will never be "over it." When I give talks about PTSD to people who work with veterans I read that poem and one of mine which shows the incomprehensibility of the experience to family members even when they care. My husband wrote a book called Chickenhawk (Robert Mason) and I have written one called Recovering From The War (Patience Mason) and publish a newsletter for trauma survivors." (WolfSoul's NOTE: Patience publishes a newsletter for sufferers of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which can be found at: http://www.patiencepress.com. Her books, as well as those of her husband, Robert Mason, can also be purchased from the site. One of her poems can be found on my Poetry Post Page HERE.)
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