Di di Mao

Di di Mao  – Young Guy Named Hal with M-16

By Paul K. Haeder, 2003, Poets Against the War

Di di mao

Get out of here,

boy, emaciated like a

walking zither, legs

shanked by B-52 metal

chopsticks for arms

Di di mao now, boy,

so I get some madam boom-boom



Di di mao

Go on, get out of here,

leave me in my bivouac

tethered to M-16

and howling Credence Clearwater

Budweiser and Castle Rock



Di di mao

Black-toothed auntie

your sack of bones

weighted by bamboo shoots

eyes rimmed by leeches

you hiss when I drive by

you twist up like roots — red

exclamation point for tongue



Di di mao

frozen refrain

each zip from my bloated cheeks

zip-zip-zip from Mattel’s

automatic carbine

white horizon courtesy of Dupont

dioxin defoliant

orange noon thanks to DOW

napalm, white phosphorus, caldrons

percolating into my bone


 Di di mao

get out of here now,

Charlie, bequest your sisters

and wives, we are

masters of the flesh

sweaty carcasses

lurching for our all-American

pursuit of happiness


Di di moi

swollen delta

where water buffalo

undulate in their gases,

heat from

F-4 Phantoms —

with jaws of a great


shark  — rattle

elephant tusks.


*–*                 *–*

Di di Mao (2) – Boy with Dog in Rice Basket


my rainforest is purity

hornbills sail through mists

where my elders follow our joss

stick incense trails

vines like tendrils

to heaven,

the slog and muck and verdant

forest sings songs

of genuflections

to dead brothers and mothers


Di di mao, get out of here now

pulpy-flesh mastodons

go back to your refrigerators

T-bones and French fries

find your leaders

placate your lipless gray kings

who are mean with their green wads

go, find them and ask

why you are running

into our shadows


Di di mao

recede into your choppers

smoky trails lead back to your

land of garish light

your churning chugging citizens

purge from your jet planes

like sunburned bovine —

leave me to my lotus


my empty stomach

my sister who is like

an apostrophe

agile, sudden

fragile, but with a bomb


Di di mao

get out of my

Hue, where my monks

self-immolate on the banks of the Perfume

River, butterflies

flutter into memory — watch

my grandmothers throw your

C-rations into the river

your photographs of lipless

sallow men

fleshy children

balloon pin-up girls

float in a river

of fire


Di di mao

we are pleasant in our

stone age — our

mosquitoes like black lace

wet-skinned tigers

lurch after barking deer

vine snakes like liquid titanium

civets watch kingfishers

who spear  frogs

like my Viet Cong

sending pongee stakes

wet into your

hearts . . . .


di di mao.

Statistics for the Fall of Saigon 1975:

The official number 58,148 Americans killed during service. An additional 114 were captured and died in captivity.

In the 5 years following the war,  the suicide rate of veterans was 1.7 times the non-Veteran population  — 9,000 suicides as a direct result of the war.

There were 223,748 South Vietnamese soldiers killed, as well as 5,282 of other nationalities.

According to the Agence France Presse (French Press Agency), “. . .the true civilian casualties of the Vietnam War were 2,000,000 in the north, and 2,000,000 in the south.

 Military casualties were 1.1 million killed and 600,000 wounded in 21 years of war.  These figures were deliberately falsified during the war by the North Vietnamese

Communists to avoid demoralizing the population.”

So approximately 5.3 million total Vietnamese casualties from 1954 to the Fall of Saigon, April 30th 1975.


Henry Kissinger helped to orchestrate indiscriminate B-52 bombing raids that killed hundreds of thousands of people. As national security adviser (NSA) to President Nixon from 1969-73, and later as US secretary of state from 1973-77, Kissinger was the chief planner of US war policy in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

A US Senate sub-committee on refugees claims from March 1968 to March 1972 more than  three million civilians were killed, wounded or made homeless because of Kissinger’s ruthless political and military maneuvers.

“During this same period, most of which coincides with Kissinger’s role as NSA to the President, the US dropped nearly 4.5 million tons of high explosive on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia – more than double the tonnage dropped during the whole of the second world war,”  writes  Peter Tatchell of the Guardian Unlimited.

No smart bomb technology, just shock and awe and more shock as US bombing of civilian and military targets – there wasn’t much the Air Force command did to verify what their bombers were hitting — killed 350,000 civilians in Laos and 600,000 in Cambodia. Multiple that total by three or more for the number of civilians who were wounded and made refugees.

“During the first 30 months of the Nixon-Kissinger administration, the US counter-insurgency Phoenix Program was responsible for the murder or abduction of 35,708 Vietnamese civilians,” Tatchell adds.

Million of gallons of toxic spray in a campaign of ecocide by the US saturated Vietnam in chemical defoliants and pesticides, including Agent Orange. Birth defects and large swaths of land in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia have been rendered useless for farming or human life.

In 2005 PCB levels (found in agent orange) in lactating women’s milk are four to 16 times higher than our own EPA deems as moderately unsafe.

Paul Haeder's been a teacher, social worker, newspaperman, environmental activist, and marginalized muckraker, union organizer. Paul's book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years (now going on 17 years) of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his musings at LA Progressive. Read (purchase) his short story collection, Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam now out, published by Cirque Journal. Here's his Amazon page with more published work Amazon. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.