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poetry What the U.S. Calls Counter-Terrorism: The Phoenix Program

Southern California poet Teresa Mei-Chuc speaks back to the US lethal “counter-terrorist” Phoenix Program during the Vietnam War.

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What the U.S. Calls Counter-Terrorism:

The Phoenix Program

By Teresa Mei Chuc

Not only did the U.S.

try to steal our native land,

it tried to steal our fire bird


Embroidered it onto

patches and gave

those who wore

it a job to assassinate


Calling anyone they believed

to be an insurgent

or Viet Cong or

protecting their own

homeland, a terrorist.

“What the U.S. Calls Counter-Terrorism: The Phoenix Program” was first published in The Night Heron Barks

Former Poet Laureate of Altadena, California (2018 to 2020), Teresa Mei Chuc is the author of three full-length collections of poetry, Red Thread (Fithian Press, 2012), Keeper of the Winds (FootHills Publishing, 2014) and Invisible Light (Many Voices Press, 2018). She was born in Saigon, Vietnam and immigrated to the U.S. under political asylum with her mother and brother shortly after the Vietnam War while her father remained in a Vietcong "reeducation" prison camp for nine years. Since the age of two, Teresa grew up in the Tongva village of Hahamongna (Pasadena, California) where she still lives and loves. Teresa is a graduate of the Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing program (Poetry) at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont and teaches literature and writing at a public high school in Los Angeles.