Missing in Action

This poem was sent to me by Gabriel Rosenstock, who lives in Dublin. It’s based on a recent essay of mine entitled Of Class Rings, Bone Fragments and Fish Ponds: the Interminable Search for US MIAs in Vietnam published on 21 May 2021 by CounterPunch. Look below for information about Gabriel and his work, including links to his Wikipedia entry and his latest publication.

Click on the image to see the source.

The Americans spend over $100 million a year in search of soldiers missing in action. Most of the search for MIAs occurs in Southeast Asia. Gabriel Rosenstock’s short poem in Irish and English focusses on one such recovery mission. 


Ar Iarraidh i gComhrac

73 míle taobh theas de Hanáí

a thángthas air

Ní féidir a bheith ag súil le mórán

in aeráid thrópaiceach

50 bliain tar éis do dhuine

a bheith ar iarraidh i gcomhrac

I dtóin linn éisc a thángthas air

Is beag a bhí fágtha de dáiríre

Fáinne pósta.

Missing in Action

73 miles south of Hanoi

is where they found him

You can’t be hoping for much

in a tropical climate

50 years after someone goes

missing in action

They found him

at the bottom of a fish pond

There wasn’t much of him left if the truth be told

A wedding ring

Gabriel Rosenstock is a poet, haikuist, tankaist, novelist, translator, short story writer, essayist and playwright. His latest bilingual volume of tanka is Secret of Secrets.

Podcast Version (Thank you, Gabriel!)

Shalom (שלום), MAA

2 thoughts on “Missing in Action

  1. As a fan of Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee, I saw the movie as a child and had no idea what the mission was about because I couldn’t understand English at the time. Your poem now beautifully unravels the story, and what I love most about it is the simplicity of your diction.

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