Adrian Mitchell – To Whom It May Concern Tell Me Lies about Vietnam

I was bowled over by the sheer power of this poem when I heard it read at the Royal Albert Hall. Very few poems capture that emotion.

War is a disease. So tell me lies about why we need to wage it. Tell me lies about the terrible people we need to fight. Tell me lies about the need to kill. Tell me lies about the horrors of these people. Tell me lies that there are no alternatives.

To Whom It May Concern

I was run over by the truth one day.
Ever since the accident I’ve walked this way
So stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

Heard the alarm clock screaming with pain,
Couldn’t find myself so I went back to sleep again
So fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

Every time I shut my eyes all I see is flames.
Made a marble phone book and I carved out all the names
So coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

I smell something burning, hope it’s just my brains.
They’re only dropping peppermints and daisy-chains
So stuff my nose with garlic
Coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

Where were you at the time of the crime?
Down by the Cenotaph drinking slime
So chain my tongue with whisky
Stuff my nose with garlic
Coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

You put your bombers in, you put your conscience out,
You take the human being and you twist it all about
So scrub my skin with women
Chain my tongue with whisky
Stuff my nose with garlic
Coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

Adrian Mitchell

6 thoughts on “Adrian Mitchell – To Whom It May Concern Tell Me Lies about Vietnam

  1. If I had a penny for everybody that’s said “oh I was there” over the years. It’s like that Sex Pistols gig in Manchester in 1976 with 175,000 in the audience. This event at the RAH was full of Oxbridge posh toffs, it wasn’t attended by the impoverished off the street. Any pretenses otherwise are most questionable.

  2. Strangely difficult to actually post a comment.

    As I was saying, if I had a penny for the number of people that over the years have claimed “oh I was there”. It’s like that Sex Pistols gig in Manchester in 1976 with 175,000 people in the audience. It’s always got to be treated with a certain amount of caution. The RAH poetry event was full of Oxbridge posh types, not off the street people.

    1. I don’t know why there should be a problem with posting. I did have to dig this out of spam though. Quite lucky really. I’m currently get 3000+ spam a day. I don’t normally check any more. I just happened to notice this.

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