Friday, September 14, 2012

Here I Am - Reprise

Pictures by Tim Page from the Vietnam war that formed me.

Tim Page is a photographer, journalist, and author of Page after Page: Memoirs of a War-Torn Photographer; Tim Page's Nam; and the coeditor of Requiem: By the Photographers Who Died in Indochina and Vietnam, the 1997 winner of the Robert Capa Gold Medal Award, the International Center of Photography Infinity Award for Best Publication, and other awards. He resides in Kent, England.

In 1965, Page began taking photographs of the border conflicts in Cambodia and Vietnam. Eventually, he became one of the most notorious combat photographers and renowned for the images he captured. In the movie epic "Apocalypse Now", the dope smoking, crazed photographer played by Dennis Hopper at the top of the river is said to be based on Page. Page's friend Michael Herr created the role and also wrote the well-known book "Dispatches", where Page is one of the main characters. Tim Page was wounded several times whilst working in Vietnam.

"Today you will say things you can predict and other things you could never imagine this minute. Don't reject them, let them come through when they're ready, don't think you can plan it all out. This day will never, no matter how long you live, happen again. It is exquisitely singular. It will never again be exactly repeated." - Naomi Shihab Nye

Wiki says: Naomi Shihab Nye (born March 12, 1952) is a poet, songwriter, and novelist. She was born to a Palestinian father and American mother. Although she regards herself as a "wandering poet", she refers to San Antonio as her home.


By Naomi Shihab Nye

Because the eye has a short shadow or
it is hard to see over heads in the crowd?

If everyone else seems smarter
but you need your own secret?

If mystery was never your friend?

If one way could satisfy
the infinite heart of the heavens?

If you liked the king on his golden throne
more than the villagers carrying baskets of lemons?

If you wanted to be sure
his guards would admit you to the party?

The boy with the broken pencil
scrapes his little knife against the lead
turning and turning it as a point
emerges from the wood again

If he would believe his life is like that
he would not follow his father into war

That's Naomi. I don't know how to make this blog indent as Naomi did, so I took the last verses to the center and italicized them myself. I think it works okay. Now I will write my response.

Here I am

I sit in corners,
try invisibility
on for pensive size,
wondering if I
must fight on this day or that,
or if it ever
will work, this crouching
in accidental corners.
Please just forget me.
My purity leaks.
My integrity is frayed,
Lord. You worry me.

Once we ran away.
We ran to Cox's Bazaar
where crabs stared us down.
They crawled across us
as we slept rough on the beach.
That monsoon dropped on
us May 10th. I won't wait
so long to get up
or whisper my love,
and I will not go to war.
I will not go there.

Written and First Posted December 13, 2010 6:58 PM
Revisited and modified September 15, 2012

The crabs found on the beaches near Cox's Bazaar in Bangladesh are Red Crabs.  They have prominent eye stalks and they look like this:

Red Crabs tend to migrate at certain times of the year and are famous for it on Christmas Island, found in the Indian Ocean.


  1. this comes to mind, christopher, part 5 of a 10 part poem written by juan ramon jimenez and translated by james wright:



    -No, no!
    and the dirtyneck boy starts crying and running
    without getting away, in a moment, on the streets.
    His hands,
    he's got something in his hands!
    He doesn't know what it is, but he runs to the dawn
    With his hidden prize.
    Endlessly beforehand, we know what his trophy is:
    something ignored, that the soul keeps awake in us.
    We almost start to glitter inside his gold
    with extravagant nakedness...
    - No, no!
    and the dirtyneck boy starts crying and running
    without getting away, in a moment, on the street.
    The arm is strong, it could easily grab him...
    The heart, also a beggar, lets him go.

    (From Diario de Poeta y Mar)

    why such violence inside us? and yet the gold, the trophy.



  2. I thank the stars for you my good friend. I am afraid that we can do little about the willfulness and ignorance of the human condition. The Buddhists accept that the long path is truly a long path, eons long. We are confronting the risks we take now. The question has become intense, and yet in my experience the mainstream is more asleep than it was in the fifties and sixties. Will we run out of time? This looks ever more probable. We humans are likely to be forgotten completely in a thousand years.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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