Driving through Minnesota During the Hanoi Bombings

By Robert Bly b. 1926 Robert Bly
We drive between lakes just turning green;   
Late June. The white turkeys have been moved   
A second time to new grass.
How long the seconds are in great pain!   
Terror just before death,
Shoulders torn, shot
From helicopters. “I saw the boy
being tortured with a telephone generator,”   
The sergeant said.
“I felt sorry for him
And blew his head off with a shotgun.”   
These instants become crystals,
The grass cannot dissolve. Our own gaiety   
Will end up
In Asia, and you will look down in your cup   
And see
Black Starfighters.
Our own cities were the ones we wanted to bomb!   
Therefore we will have to
Go far away
To atone
For the suffering of the stringy-chested   
And the short rice-fed ones, quivering   
In the helicopter like wild animals,
Shot in the chest, taken back to be questioned.

Robert Bly, "Driving through Minnesota during the Hanoi Bombings" from Selected Poems, published by HarperCollins Publishers.  Copyright © 1967 and renewed 1995 by Robert Bly.  Used by permission of Robert Bly.

Source: Selected Poems (HarperCollins Publishers Inc, 1986)

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Poet Robert Bly b. 1926

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Nature, War & Conflict, Summer, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Robert  Bly


Since the 1960s, Robert Bly has written poetry that is nonacademic, based in the natural world, the visionary, and the realm of the irrational. As a poet, editor and translator, Bly has profoundly affected American verse, introducing many unknown European and South American poets to new readers. In addition to his poetic endeavors, he has gained attention for his theories on the roots of social problems, and his efforts to help . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, War & Conflict, Summer, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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