Children in the Darkness

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Journal of my trip 30 March - 26 May 2011


In 2009, on my last trip to Vietnam, I was sitting in my hotel trying to write a poem about the girls in the park and how badly men treat them. Using them and then tossing them aside like an empty candy wrapper. I could not put two lines together that were meaningful however I really wanted to write the poem. I looked at the TV and there was a News Reader on. The sound was down but behind him was a photo of a little African boy wearing an Army helmet and carrying an automatic rifle. This poem just flowed out and I wrote it down just as fast as it came to me.

If I had written this in High School a few close friends and my family would have read it. Now, because of the internet, it is being read around the world. I Googled ““Children in the darkness” “Henry Bechtold”” and found the poem being assigned to students in Singapore to analyze. A woman in England asked if they could read my poem at a “Remembrance Day” celebration. She later wrote and said that it was well received. I have received e-mails from around the world. It amazes me.

Children in the Darkness
Henry Bechtold

There are children in the darkness
Who have not seen the light
There are children in the darkness
Who someone will teach to fight

Chalk and blackboards will not be
To this door there is no key
From this life they can not flee
And these children are not free

Could we simply light a candle
Could we give them half a chance
Could we teach them how to read
Could we teach them how to dance

Or will a war consume them
Their body and their soul
Will their life and blood be poured
Down some endless thirsty hole

Back into the darkness
From which there is no flight
Back into the darkness
Into which there shines no light