A (somewhat) monthly journal of political poetry and commentary
One day the soldiers discovered that rice is one of the most maddeningly difficult substances to destroy, so off they went to a bigger and better option that will actually kill off the rice paddies. The soldiers also came across jungle leaves. Why, the wide and narrow leaves of grass, bamboo, and banana got in the way of their daily business. Please spray sparingly. After all, there is a precedent for spraying. The British did it first during the Malayan Emergency and sparingly they did. Have you heard of sovereign immunity? Well, it is also a bigger and better option that will actually kill off any pesty jungles and lawsuits, even frogs and fetuses for generations, which is to say, it is entirely legal. Needless to say, this splendid option is also a maddeningly difficult thing to destroy, so off they went—the soldiers, I mean—spraying sparingly all over the world, along borders, golf courses, and DMZs. Please! I dare you to spray my button eyes, spray my button nose, spray my adorable snout, spray my furry ears, and what do you get? My deformity! My double torso is in a jar. Darling Bear, only you can prevent my deformity.
“Anti-parody”: “the soldiers discovered that rice is…” is from the International War Crimes
Tribunal in 1967, quoted in Gerard Greenfield’s article “Agent Blue and the Business of Killing
Rice” (2004). Smokey Bear wildfire poster was appropriated by the U.S. military during
Operation Ranch Hand (1962-71). Nearly 20 million gallons of herbicides were sprayed in
Vietnam as well as some parts of Laos and Cambodia.
Don Mee Choi is the author of The Morning News Is Exciting (Action Books, 2010), and translator of contemporary Korean women poets. Her most recent works include a chapbook, Petite Manifesto (Vagabond Press, 2014), and a pamphlet, Freely Frayed, ㅋ=q, Race=Nation (Wave Books, 2014).