" A photo is worth a thousand words, but a pen is worth a thousand photos. " 
--Adapted from a Chinese proverb by poet Linh Duy Vo

The Unjust Focus

  (For the honor of our beloved Viet Vets)


The peasant was holding her dead child

The American photographer put them before his lens

She curiously looked at the cameraman,

Strange big man, strange instruments;

She stood there for him.

The warrior walking past the "scene"

He felt insulted, his eyes wildly opened…

He dutifully answered the call of his country, America

He dropped the pen, picked up the weapon

Goodbye to his school sweetheart

Goodbye Mom, Dad

He went off to War to fight for Peace…

His eyes opened,

What’s the camera doing here?

The war’s going on

Where’s your gun, man?

I’m going to be shot at

A baby was dead, I am next

The Viet Cong are everywhere.


They buried children, women, alive in Hue

Tet Offensive

Where was your camera?

The barefoot woman and her dead infant

Still standing…

The warrior just passed right into the lens,

It clicked.

The photo turned out – it betrayed the noble cause;

The camera didn’t lie

It was just a fool,

It was focused for an unjust picture…

Linh Duy Vo
(The Boy in the Poem)
March 23, 1997 ©



A Mission


 © Copyright by Linh Duy Vo.  All rights reserved.