Poetry Corner: To Whom It May Concern (Tell me lies about Vietnam)

Adrian Mitchell, 1932 – 2008, first performed his stirring denunciation of the Vietnam War, To Whom It May Concern (Tell me lies about Vietnam), at an anti war protest in Trafalgar Square, London, in 1964.

The video features a performance on 11 June 1965 at London’s Royal Albert Hall, at the height of the Vietnam War.

*

Adrian Mitchell, 1932 – 2008

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 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

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