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Nobody Gets Off the Bus:
The Viet Nam Generation Big Book

Volume 5 Number 1-4
March 1994

Texts made available by the Sixties Project, are generally copyrighted by the Author or by Viet Nam Generation, Inc., all rights reserved. These texts may be used, printed, and archived in accordance with the Fair Use provisions of U.S. Copyright law. These texts may not be archived, printed, or redistributed in any form for a fee, without the consent of the copyright holder. This notice must accompany any redistribution of the text. A few of the texts we publish are in the public domain. For information on a specific text, contact Kalí Tal. The Sixties Project, sponsored by Viet Nam Generation Inc. and the Institute of Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, is dedicated to using electronic resources to provide routes of collaboration and make available primary and secondary sources for researchers, students, teachers, writers and librarians interested in the 1960s.

Poetry by Antler


Not standing when Star-Spangled Banner played
by Milwaukee Symphony outdoors in Marcus Amphitheater,
near Lake Michigan and downtown Milwaukee
before the Beethovan's Ninth Concert,
Everyone else standing, everyone else singing,
Putting my head in one hand as it plays so heroic,
Thinking of all the Iraqi dead,
the dead men murdered by our soldiers
as they retreated,
Thinking of Vietnam, My Lai, Wounded Knee, Dresden, Nagasaki,
Thinking back to Washington Park 20 years ago Vietnam War era
one summer eve the Star-Spangled Banner played
before Pagliacci
and not standing then, everyone singing,
Remembering the hateful threats and curses whispered
behind me.
Now no curses or threats, only singing sadly and sweetly
mothers and fathers whose voices seem
soft-spoken and sorrowful too
as if they think me Vietnam Veteran
remembering his bestfriend killed there
and remember their bestfriend
killed in World War II or Korea,
No tone of defiant patriotism to my ears,
No growl of rage in the melody,
Only a sound of many melancholy voices trying
to sound cheefful, hopeful, trying
to believe we still are
the great nation we were taught we were
and thought we were
in gradeschool,
No tone of hate or scorn--as if they understand
why I will never stand
for the Star-Spangled Banner
or the American Flag again.
America became Ecotopia and Ecotopia's flag was the Wilderness
and Ecotopia's National Anthem is the wind.
America loved itself so much
it became Ecotopia
after all.
Now we play no National Anthem
And need no Symphony or Aphitheater
or downtown or Milwaukee
As we sit and listen to crickets
and watch fireflies as it gets dark
in hot July along the pure fresh-water shores
of Great Lake Michigan.

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