Why I Can’t Be Poetic

A Prose/Poem/Essay by Richard D. Hartwell

I write poetry, some of it good, but when I started to compose verse about the impact of Dow, Monsanto and my government on Vietnam, I cried. I just couldn’t put into poetic from the residual ills of Agent Orange on that gorgeous country and its beautiful people. I ache for it and for them and for me.I have no venom for the damage done to my flesh. For my minute part in the American War; yes, the American War, not the Vietnam War; I insist on that when I sit alone in the VA hospital–for my small part, I carry several scars, some outside, some inside, some from metal, some from chemicals. And I carry burdens of remorse that no labeled syndrome can encompass. Of this or these, my wife learned only recently, nearly forty-five years after the fact. That is my personal problem, dealt with after divorce and booze and drugs and tears and nightmares: personal.

Dow, Monsanto, Washington

– Are you all still with me? There is a public part to this as well:My first wife, Esther, gave birth to our son John in 1968. He committed suicide in 2004, after living with the rapid ravages of multiple sclerosis.

One of John’s two sons was diagnosed as developmentally delayed.

Esther had a spontaneous delivery of another son, Nathaniel, in 1971; he died within twenty-four hours, defective, premature.

My second and current wife, Sally, gave birth to our daughter Jaime in 1976. She has a genetic birth defect and is both physically and mentally challenged. She still lives with us.

Sally delivered our son, Joshua, in 1979. He struggled in school and was in special education classes throughout middle and high school. He and his ex-wife and two children live with us.

One of Joshua’s two children, while very young still, appears to be delayed in speech skills.

Our third child, Justin, has emphatically decided not to have any children.

None of this is poetic. All of this is prosaic. However, the odds of these afflictions affecting the progeny of a single sire are astronomic, unless, of course, he scouted the dead orange jungle as well as the healthy green one.

No, I have no venom for the damage done to my flesh. As for the damage I’ve done to my soul, I continue to seek absolution that has not been forthcoming. But for the damage done to my family, to my children, and to their children–yes, I do have venom. I have a personal poison that bubbles to the surface whenever I see the struggles made by them. And then I see the pictures of a reunited Vietnam

Struggling with the residual poisons left to flow and fester through generations, and I realize how lucky I am.My government refused to accept responsibility for my children’s problems, but I had a job and we’ve gotten along. The same cannot be said for those suffering still in the aftermath of the chemical warfare created and produced by Dow and Monsanto and knowingly used by that same government that denies responsibility for John, Nathaniel, Jaime, Joshua, and perhaps my grandchildren too.

It’s hard to generalize when it’s so personal. It’s hard to be poetic when it’s so public.

The Jungle

A Poem by Gertrude Wong

The trees were wrapped in vines and monkeys,
fruit hung heavy from the branches as if heat could be water,
and there was water, a lot of water, water everywhere,
waterfalls and cascades and deep thriving rivers.

Monsanto came with diseases–horrors–evils–
diseases of greed and money grubbing and everything terrible–
and the jungle changed and the jungle died
and the people of the jungle changed, too,
and nothing was ever the same again.

Do you not think the Black Plague cannot touch us again?
Do you not think Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever can not still reach out?
Do you not think GMO’s creating a resistance in corn
do not change us who eat it (Remember always Agent Orange)–
our resistance is growing weaker and weaker and we tumble downwards,
down onto the paths of least resistance until we lack resistance.

Let the next great plague hit us and it will.
What will stop it from passing through us?
Monsanto’s greed? Monsanto’s evil? Monsanto’s disease?
Monsters destroyed our jungles, our photosynthesis engines,
our water, our soil, our genetic building blocks
and these are the Monsantos, the Dow Chemicals, out there,
killing us slowly…killing us…killing…

because the material was to be used on the ‘enemy,’

A Poem by Dr. James Clary

Editor’s note: Dr. James Clary is the scientist at the Chemical Weapons Branch, Eglin Air Force Base, who designed the herbicide spray tank and wrote a 1979 report on Operation Ranch Hand (the name of the spraying program using Monsanto and Dow Chemical Agent Orange), A piece of the report has been tansformed into a poem by KJ Touhy. The link and a segment of the report is below (thanks to KJ Touhy, M. Lapin and Mary Simon):


because the material was to be used on the ‘enemy,’
none of us were overly concerned.
We never considered a scenario
in which our own personnel
would become contaminated by the herbicide…

*military scientists

Monsanto Fat, Dow Chemical Poison

A Poem by Mary Simon

Monsanto fat, Dow Chemical poison
the beginning of the fourth generation:
we are what we eat, drink and breath,
we are what we make love to–
Monsanto’s cholesterol, flabby hearts,
mad cow diseased brains
Dow Chemical’s degraded genes, weakened muscle,
the slow decline in cognitive ability–
will there be a fifth generation?
Will mankind perish before the sixth?
Monsanto poison, Dow Chemical fat.

Boycott Monsanto–Do Not Purchase the Items Below

Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal)–Aspartame Formaldehyde Poisoning: http://www.holisticmed.com/aspartame/embalm.html

Roundup Herbicide–A toxic poison damaging everything it touches–even us

Genetically Engineered Soy & Canola Products & Ingredients (Roundup Treated)–GMO’s that poison our bodies, the soil and the biodiversity of the ecosystem.

rBGH Dairy rBGH (Posilac)–A cause of breast cancer and prostate cancer

Ambien Insomnia Medication–Zolpidem Warning (new/worsening depression, abnormal thoughts, thoughts of suicide, hallucinations, confusion, agitation, aggressive behavior, anxiety, sleep-driving, sleepwalked, prepared/eaten food, made phone calls, or had sex while not fully awake.)

Food Freedom Boycotts Monsanto.

For the source and more information: