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Welcome to Willy Bach's Poems
Leong Nok Tha
Where's Your Chastity Now?

A collection of poems exploring aspects of war

By Willy Bach

© 1989 - 1999


"In order to save the village we had to destroy it"
Unknown American Marine

"If you grab 'em by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow"

"Give us your hearts and minds or we'll burn down your goddam village"…

"I'm glad the CIA is immoral"
Thomas W Braden, one time head of the CIA's Division of International Organisation

"I can only say that we have been conducting propaganda as defined by F.M. Cornford: That branch of the art of lying which consists in very nearly deceiving your friends without quite deceiving your enemies."
11th June 1964 Rostow Chairman of the Policy Planning Staff

"… any SEATO contribution. Martin said 'keep them doing what they are: UK building a field near Savannakhet; Australia has aircraft at Ubon. Felt that troops into Mekong towns (inside Laos) will not all be US (but UK and Australia feel that their ground forces are tied up in Borneo; might provide air)".
Summary Record of Meeting 1 Honolulu 2nd June 1964

"I greatly value the close consultation our two governments* have had and the parallel actions we have been taking".
Lyndon B Johnson President of United States - telegram to British Prime Minister 22nd May 1964
* refers to Britain and United States
From declassified US State Department documents

"At present nothing is possible except to extend the area of sanity little by little"
George Orwell "1984"

"Perhaps this is the mission statement for this book"
Willy Bach - Author

This anthology is dedicated to the end of military conflict and all who struggle to achieve this. Non-violent resolution is entirely possible and practicable.
It is also dedicated to those who suffered, the innocents who got in the way when conflict occurred.
To those who live in the nightmare of post traumatic stress …… this is for you as well.

I wish to acknowledge the invaluable assistance I have received in assembling this anthology.

Marit Hegge - Internet
Tim Collins - Advice
Lk Anh Tuan - Inspiration, Background
Phuong Le Duc - Inspiration
Mrs Ounkham - Background
Jeff Usher - Compositions, Accompanist, Collaborator "A Stone in the Pond"
Raine & John - Whose fathers were involved with the CIA
Senator John Woodley: Research Questions, Private Members Bill
Lisa - Word Processing 1991 Poems
Kristen - word processing 1998-99

MAI West End, Sister Lurlene English (deceased)
Migrant Resource Centre, West End
Queensland Poets (extinct)
Queensland Writers Centre

Research Facilities
State Library, Queensland
Brisbane City Council Library
Griffith University Library

Performance Venues
Metro Arts, Brisbane - 'Tour de Force' own show 1991
Café Lunar (extinct)
Queensland Performing Arts Centre - 'Out of the Box' own show 1992
Story Bridge Hotel
Maleny Folk Festival
Writers at the Rails, Byron Bay
Warana Writers' Festival 1991 and 1993
Wordfest 1991, 1992

Literary Journals/Publications
The Cane Toad Times
Northern Perspective
Southern Review
Small Times
Small Packages
New England Review
Social Alternatives
Idiom 23
The Australian Writers Journal
Micropress OZ
API News
The Green Left Weekly

Radio Stations
ABC RN, 4QR, 4RPH, 4ZZZ, FM101
Passion 99.5 Arts Radio, Singapore
With special thanks to 4MBS FM Classic Radio
With special thanks also to Mike Ladd, Poetica, ABC RN

How would you feel if you did not believe in killing people and had a background that related strongly to the Holocaust of World War II?
How would you feel if you discovered that, by the simple act of wielding an edging trowel, you had unwittingly participated in another of the twentieth century's holocausts - the CIA's Secret War in Laos?
Willy Bach's response was to write poetry - very angry, passionate lines that should make us all stop and consider the full implications of war. He almost lost his sanity, ended a twenty-three year marriage, revisited the scene of the crime and took ten years to complete this work.

Willy Bach was sent to North-East Thailand as a British soldier with 11 Independent Field Squadron, Royal Engineers in March 1966. He worked on a construction site for two months. There was also an Australian Troop of around thirty men in the unit. The work being carried out by day and night was the building of an airstrip two kilometres long in 'pavement quality' concrete. The official story was that the airstrip was for the Thai Government to develop the local economy by enabling the peasants to market their produce more effectively. The transport Caribous that would allegedly use the airstrip were capable of landing on the asphalt taxi-ways and could have used even less sophisticated surfaces.
That was when he was twenty.
Twenty-two years passed. Suddenly, he felt that something had been boring away at his soul and had remained hidden all that time. Something very wrong had happened at Leong Nok Tha. It was possible that the airstrip had been intended to assist in the secret bombing of Laos or Cambodia by the CIA undercover airforce - Air America. These forces were operating from Ubon Ratchathani and other bases alongside 'official' forces and was made up of retired US Airforce personnel and highly paid mercenaries, Air America, 'free agents' out of control. They dealt with the drug barons of the Golden Triangle, in weapons and drugs dealing in death and making fortunes for themselves. For a period of eight years Laos was the most heavily bombed country in the world, until the citizens of the USA found out what their own Government had been doing. The legacy of unexploded bombs, millions of aerially-seeded anti-personnel mines and damage to people and productive resources continue to this day.

The First Ballad of Leong Nok Tha
The Second Ballad of Leong Nok Tha
The Third Ballad of Leong Nok Tha
Nothing Matters Anymore
Finished Being Angry
Lunch at Schloss Eberstein 1962
The Ballad of Bukit Asahan
NoneedtoKnock, Special Relations
Empty Magazine
A Prisoner in My Conscience
Not a Single Drop - Prose
Pathetic Figures in the Forest
Candles in Ann Street
Top Copter
Brother Number One - Father of the Year
Long Before There Was Charlie
Air Cadets
Solid Citizens
Skirmish House
TVRI Berita Pagi
Ci Ci Fly
That Suitcase
Packaged I II III IV
Rolf My Father Ashes Poste Restante
Unnamed (on the Road From Ubon Ratchathani to Leong Nok Tha) I II III
Bad Medicine
Rediscovering Kok Tha Lat - Prose
This Is Not My Village
Boy soldiers Hmong
They Tell Me Baby Airforce
I Did It My Way
River of the Disappeared
Site Two is My Country
Venerable Lunch Bangkok '93
O Vacuum
Us and Them Negotiations
McNamara Has Spoken
Kosovo Rewind

This month's poems:

I am sitting in a peaceful room
In a garden of jambu
And bilimbing
Three kinds of coconut
TVRI is with us
In full colour
Bringing us the world
As they see it
Berita Pagi presented
In sophisticated style
By model women
All about what the men
Are doing In their uniforms
With their guns
Bosnia Herzogovena
In full colour
Mogadishu in ruins
We are so lucky
In Kuta with so many
Men with guns
To protect their rule
From quiet folk with sarongs
And stick brooms
Pounding their chillies
Washing rice
Grating coconut
Marinating their tempeh
And Xanana Gusmao
Not far from here

Footnote: This poem was written in Kuta, Bali in 1992. It has been published in several literary journals.

As I come
To tread your dust
Walking as though fixated
Returning as though a hero
On my pilgrimage of peace
Memories and anguish
I tell them in my mind
This is yours
Left hardly better than before
I have no sense of place
This is not my village

Just because it all looks familiar
Just because the children
All run into the street

Group themselves for photographs
Give me their address
Let it be yours
Let me give it back
With my shattered conscience
This is not my village

These are not my people
Lost in dust
Just because this old man
Can talk my language
A little ......and yes
He remembers Kevin
From Sydney not known to me
And next month
Those who came after
Will return - perhaps to gloat
Slap one another
On the back
This is not my village

For up this dusty track
Young women came
To feed on wasted semen
And be forgotten
Now all the beer bottles
Mamasans and bars
Are gone
This place is where it was
Before - long ago I came
This could never be my village

This is not my village
This is not where my
Placenta is buried
Not where the spirits
Of my ancestors dwell
The right to own this land
Was never granted me
I should neither bring
Nor take
Soldiers are tourists with guns
Tourists are invaders with cameras
This is not my village

This could never be mine
These are not my people
Though I am their brother
Nothing could give me the right
To remove them
To another place
To extinguish their houses
From the face of the earth
To set them wandering

In search of roots that cannot be
A new village cannot be their village
New land has no ancestors
This is not my village

Dedicated to the villagers of Ban Kok Talat where the airstrip was built, ten kilometres from Leong Nok Tha, revisited in January, 1993. This poem has been published in several literary journals.

I come to taste the air
Feel the firm concrete
Under my feet
That I was not dreaming
I had not imagined this
I had not thrown away
Everything I had
Planned for five years

Broken ties
Spoken out
Shared my pain
Came all this way
Not knowing what
I would find

No drug
No rush of joy
No orgasm
Could feel like this
I want to cry out
Pressure welling up
In my lumped throat
I want to sing
My long repressed song
Painful exhilaration

That mountain
I remember
Standing here
Trowel in hand
Dreaming the mysteries
Of that mountain
In Laos
This rude finger
Grey and cruel
Pointed in her direction

I came to see the ground
At ground level
The people as they were
Their diminished realm
For herbs and frogs
And twigs
Buffalo strolling
Across this useless blot

Two kilometres
Of pavement quality
Two kilometres
For what
Two kilometres
Built for jets
Aimed to kill

I ask
I ask the magic question
I know the answers
I know the questions
What is the question?

Who came here
After me?

They tell me
Everything I want
To know
Americans Yes!
People many countries
They tell me
Baby Airforce
I know the questions
I know the answers
Baby Airforce
Baby Airforce
They tell me Baby Airforce

Footnote: Baby Airforce was one of the nicknames given to Air America, the CIA's secret airborne wing. Baby Airforce was a term used in the film 'Air America".

She who cannot hear
Cannot speak
She Thai
She OK
She with me
Stands hot
So what?
If I could read your lips
If I could hear
You say
Me poor too
Me too poor
Life too hard
Cost too much
Only work
Like prison
Like this
Why you come
Why you look
Why you talk talk
They Kmer
They different
What difference
They run
Come here
How come
Why come
No welcome
This country
My country
Why come here
No come here
No good here
He Kmer
Speak English
Show camp
Ride bicycle
Cost money
Show family
Tell story
Bad story
Sad story
Lose family
Run away
Run here
Come here
No good here
No hope here
No power here
No free here
This country
Your country
He come here
No hope here Stay twelve year
No good here
Have daughters
Four daughters
All prisoners
No see country
Never see country
Never been country
Where is my country
Site 2 is my country
I have no country
Site 2 is my country
I have no country
Site 2 is my country
I forget country
Site 2 is my country
In February 1993 I visited Site 2, the notorious, Kmer Rouge controlled, Cambodian refugee camp near That Praya, Aranyaprathet, South East Thailand. I was accompanied by a deaf and dumb Thai woman, Kwajeen. I arrived at the camp with no papers from Bangkok but still persuaded the guards that I was an English teacher. I was allowed to see the camp, though forbidden to take photographs.
At that time the United Nations were rapidly repatriating the camp inhabitants to Cambodia. Only a tenth of the original 350,000 refugees remained. At the camp gate we met Phoung Savuth and another man on bicycles. I paid them to show us the camp. The story was that of Phoung Savuth and all Cambodians. The poem is dedicated to Phoung Savuth and his family who suffered so much and so needlessly. On 7 July 1995 Phoung Savuth wrote to say that he had been repatriated to Cambodia in February of that year, two years after my visit. The title of the poem is taken from his words. It has also been published. Poems changed on a monthly basis.
Publishers welcome

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