Paraders for the Bomb

As we enter 2017 with the buffoon Donald Trump taking the reigns in the US, Putin in Russia and a Brexiting Britain that’s increasingly tearing between rich and poor this poem from Sidney Bernard seems timely once again.
Back in 1967 a poetry anthology called Where Is Vietnam? American Poets Respond came out in the US. There were many big names in it including Robert Creeley, Galway Kinnell, William Wantling, and more. William Wantling had served in Vietnam.

Paraders for the Bomb

Full of nitty-gritty anxiety,
I walk the plank of possible doom around me.
An unruly gust cuts the corner of
Lexington and 60th Street, loosing
a wayward placard around my feet.
The mustard-colored message reads,
“Bomb Hanoi.” Three blond toughs, Rover Boys
for the hour, slice in and out of the
Bloomingdale’s crowd. On one lapel are
“Drop It” buttons, on the other
“Buckley For Mayor.” They made the marching
team, these three parts of the river
of patriotism that swamped Fifth Avenue,
in a tempest of cheers for war in Vietnam.
Darting into the subway, they exhale
a vapor of belligerent righteousness,
as they head back to the neighborhood
of their fears. The shoppers (O dreamers
of the ultimate bargain!) hardly notice
the boutonniered boys. Too busy
with the map of purchasing, they miss
the territory of violence around them.

Sidney Bernard


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