Skip to main content

Please contribute to help us to chart a path forward!

Can democracy in the United States survive naked dictatorial ambition and Christian nationalism in 2024? The biggest danger today: a vengeful would-be dictator and a cultist Christian nationalist movement that are reaching for absolute power in our country. Please help us to inform, to mobilize and to inspire the forces of multi-racial, radical, inclusive democracy to defeat this threat in 2024.

poetry Our Hamburger Hill

"Hamburger Hill," site of a notorious battle in May 1969 in Vietnam, in which American troops made daily frontal assaults on entrenched enemy positions, receiving grisly casualties and causing, for the first time, significant voices of mutiny. On the tenth day, they captured the hill. Then, since it had no military value, the troops were withdrawn. California poet Anne Cheilek succinctly captures the absurdity.

Our Hamburger Hill
By Anne Cheilek

Not the high ground but a tempting mount
taken by frontal assault, held for a couple
of avaricious weeks more or less struck
hot off the summer tally, then left
like a delusion in the dark.
Change of management,
from stout hearts to
cool heads, or vice
versa? Too late
we tumbled
to zero
value, mounting
price. Casualties grew
partners, principles, poor
afterwit wondering why any sap
would bleed so fierce for so trifling a prize.
Lesson learned—maximum pressure scrapped,
protective reaction and troops redeployed home. Except a few
hastily buried words, illusions in arrears, worlds

Anne Cheilek is a writer, editor, and musician living in the San Francisco Bay Area.

If you like this article, please sign up for Snapshot, Portside's daily summary.

(One summary e-mail a day, you can change anytime, and Portside is always free.)