Tigers With Wings

My brother told me to do it.

Category: Poetic Revenge

Sink to New Heights

A hand extends from the sky,
High, above the clouds,
Out of reach of the ordinary
A celestial sink was installed
With a faucet, from which,
Satisfaction flows like water,
Where all acts are elevated
And outcomes, far and fleeting,
But gravity, like a mother’s love,
Upholds the flow in motion,
Beyond the purging drain,
no absolution, rather,
it is the spring of a stream,
That emerges as a river,
Serpentine through thirsty land,
To an ocean.

Sink to New Heights - from Poetic Revenge by Misha Bittleston

Sink to New Heights – from “Poetic Revenge” by Misha Bittleston

Interlocking concentric circles

Remember Me from Poetic Revenge by Misha Bittleston

“Remember Me” from Poetic Revenge by Misha Bittleston

This drawing has the words “remember me” over and over again, in the speech bubbles of repeating circles, like ripples that overlap.

Throughout the series “Poetic Revenge” interlocking concentric circles represent the chain reaction of destructive “remember me” actions and their repercussions. One of the only justifications given by the government for the American conflict in Vietnam was to prevent a domino effect1 of Communism throughout the world.
Were our actions based on nothing more tangible than the fear of what might happen if we didn’t attack them first? What about repercussions from the confused actions of the conflict itself?
In a world where some acts of aggression have seemingly endless and unstoppable reactions, how did the switch flip, from conflict to peace?

To explain the Vietnam War, the US government made the claim that the North Vietnamese military had attacked American ships in the Gulf of Tonkin, a false claim that has been objectively proven to have no factual basis.
In the War on Terror, the US government made the false claim that Iraqi leaders had connections to the 9/11 attack, Al-Qaeda and had Weapons of Mass Destruction that they would use against us.

President Lyndon B. Johnson regarding war in Vietnam: “the ultimate victory will depend on the hearts and minds of the people who actually live out there”.
President George W. Bush on the war in the Middle East: “Across the world, hearts and minds are opening to the message of human liberty as never before”.
Hoomi: “A war of reason and love not of blood and death will win people’s hearts and minds.”

In my concentric circles, a new rippling circle is started at one point but not at another, seeing it this way a non reaction becomes an action, like a war that is intended to result in peace, wars do end and not just because of inertia, but what makes an end to conflict possible? What kind of actions cause more reaction and what breaks the chain?
In Vietnam I couldn’t help asking myself how a nation must feel about another nation by which it has been mercilessly assaulted, and what drives or halts the impulse to retaliate.

It occurred to me that, when an artist makes something to be lasting, it is like my drawing taken literally, an attempt to be remembered, not too different from a war memorial, a plea to the world to remember, because to be remembered is to be validated.

What about destructive acts? From carving a name across a tree in the park, to flying a plane into a building, these are acts of attention seeking, demands to be remembered and validated.
Both these kinds of actions can have a ripple effect, like concentric circles, provoking other assertions to be remembered, so on and on.
Is it whatever makes the most attention getting “remember me” ripple, that gets remembered? Or that which causes the most chain reactions?

I kept asking myself why Vietnam took no revenge on the US. After the longest act of aggression and unspeakable horror in US history, in 1973 the United States stopped and it was over.

Are the people of Vietnam just so forgiving? Here I was, a welcome tourist, in a country where people who could have been my parents had come and burned their families alive.

Was it the fact that the US lost the war, and the Vietnamese people, though their country was decimated, were left vindicated and with their pride?

Is watching a world power retreat and concede to defeat, capable of quelling the drive for revenge?

After Vietnam, US political leaders admitted no wrongdoing, they had Watergate and the Pentagon Papers to do that for them, but the American people, and the influential cultural, social and civil rights leaders of the time, as well as some returning veterans, vehemently and passionately acknowledged guilt and remorse, to such an extent that in the last years of the Vietnam war GIs returned home to a shroud of shame. An unintended domino effect of the war set in motion an anti-war movement that mobilized world wide peace demonstrations, an international cultural awakening of community and love, recasting a decade of US aggression as an era of peace, love and understanding.

If the US had won, would Vietnam have turned to China for validation and joined with Russia in the war to end all wars?

If the powerful could acknowledge their faults and restrain the impulse to invalidate those who lash out at them, would that make the world a place where lasting peace could halt the domino effects of conflict?

Would acknowledging our mistakes and validating our opponents cause a loss of confidence and economic instability, or gain world respect, boost confidence in our integrity and free us from a life under constant threat of revenge?

The rich have the value the poor have the numbers

The Rich from Poetic Revenge

The Rich from “Poetic Revenge” Vietnam by Misha Bittleston

Boat Children - Halong Bay, North Vietnam, photo by Aja Marsh

Boat Children – Vietnam, photo by Aja Marsh

I drew this while traveling in Vietnam. I was trying to understand what the US was doing and why. Was it Capitalism versus Communism, or to spread Democracy to prevent the “domino effect” of Socialism. What really motivated the “longest war”, fought by the richest country in the world with most powerful military, where most of the casualties were women, children and farmers?

In my drawing, the flying puppy at the top is looking down impassively from above the clouds while underneath, clouds turn to flames, and a child who could be mistaken for a plant, fixes us with frightened eyes, which could have something to do with having a head covered with targets. To make a point Hoomi is standing on a pile of something.

When the United States bombed Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, the planes dropped, over 8 million tons of explosives. This was roughly three times the weight of bombs dropped by all sides in World War Two, and the explosive force was equal to 640 of the atom bombs used on Hiroshima, leaving more than 3 million people dead. (Gibson, 1986, p. 319.)

The American flyers sang songs about their work, in bars and clubs and quarters, after flying. Major Joe Tuso, who flew sixty-nine combat missions in 1968-69, later collected these songs. Many are full of fear. A few, like “Chocolate covered Napalm,” are anti-war. “Strafe the Town and Kill the People” (sung to the tune of Jerry Livingston’s 1955 “Wake the Town and Tell the People”) is full of angry irony:

Strafe the town and kill the people,
Drop your napalm in the square;
Do it early Sunday morning,
Catch them while they’re still at prayer.

Drop some candy to the orphans,
Watch them as they gather ’round:
Use your twenty millimeter,
Mow those little bastards down.

Strafe the town and kill the people,
Drop your high-drag on the school;
If you happen to see ground fire,
Don’t Forget the Golden Rule.

Run your CBU down main street,
Watch it rip off arms and hair;
See them scurry for the clinic,
Put a pod of rockets there.

Find a field of running Charlies,
Drop a daisy-cutter there;
Watch the chunks of bodies flying,
Arms and legs and blood and hair.

See the sweet old pregnant lady
Running cross the field in fear;
Run your twenty mike-mike through her,
Hope the film comes out real clear.

The politicians who ran the American War in Vietnam did not send their children to fight there. About 80 percent of the American soldiers who saw combat came from blue-collar families. The children of the rich did not go. Of the 1200 from the Harvard class of 1970 only a fraction of one percent were sent to Vietnam.
The government and the draft boards protected the sons of the rich. College students were not drafted until they finished their studies. And as the demand for men increased the army began taking people who had failed their intelligence tests. The US intervened in Vietnam on the side of a ruling minority, sending the American GIs, from working class families, to defend the rich against the poor in Vietnam.

War is an instrument of the investor class. Of all enemies to public liberty war should be the most dreaded, because it protects the interests of a few at the expense of many. War develops, as James Madison wrote in 1795, “known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.”

Treasure travels fast or stuck fast…

Treasure Travels by Misha Bittleston from Poetic Revenge - page 1

“Treasure Travels” from Poetic Revenge by Misha Bittleston

I did this drawing on the bus between Vietnam and Cambodia. There were little kids selling pineapple and one started crying. I was thinking about how wealth travels, either very fast or not at all. Then of how we are almost incapable of dreaming or hoping without using economics, that being truly happy always seems to come down to buying happiness.

treasure travels fast
or stuck fast,
lightfast in the dark.
no one buys
the pineapple that cries,
no one can buy happy,
but everyone tries.

Pictures from the Vietnam adventure!
Page through Misha Bittleston’s Poetic Revenge