They send you to this war alone
you get shipped to some unit
where you’re not even asked your name.
If they ask, they might like you and
the newbies die too soon for that.
If you’re wounded in combat somebody
will risk their life to get you but
when you die, it’s all too obvious,
too soon you go to meet God alone,
Xin Loi, sorry about that.
If you make it back to “The World”
you are approached by some teenybopper
in a too small halter top and
low-slung jeans with ‘Peace’ and
‘Love’ patches.
Then she gives you the finger and
spits in your face while mouthing
obscenities, and
you are still alone.


It’s scary sometimes when a
word, object, a furtive glance around
will put you there in 3D with
living color and surround sound.

It may only be for an instant
but it can be terrifying
to be back in the war without
warning, no ticket required.

Disorientation, you
learn to live with it and
to recover quickly after
snapping back and forth.

Dreams or nightmares
neither one a
form of time travel,
unwelcome, please be done.

How it Is

This country is so beautiful
the sun shines on the mountains.
Farmers in rice paddies with water buffalo,
palm trees, monkeys, birds, and strange insects.
Young girls so beautiful you don’t think they’re real.
Some are teases, but mostly attractively shy.
For a moment, a fleeting moment
I wasn’t in a war zone at all,
just on vacation, missing my family.

Then at night the mosquitoes are so thick
you are engulfed in a cloak of moving, buzzing bugs.
Elephant grass, fifteen feet high, razor-edged
so thick you can’t see more than a yard,
then you are walking through the elephant grass
while those farmers and soft, feminine girls
possessing the latest in automatic weapons
are desperately wanting to kill you.

We’re all scared, we might try to hide it
but we’re all scared, all the time.
They say when fear is in a man
he is prepared for anything,
if it possess him, he is prepared for nothing.
As of now, fear is in me, always.
Hope I can keep it from possessing me.

Why Different?

Why do you look at us so
are we that different from you?
We laugh, and cry, and curse, and cheer
are we really so different?
So you stayed home and watched TV
while we gave you news to watch,
are we really so different?
We both did our jobs; maybe we are, a little.
Does your job haunt your dreams, even awake,
is your outlook colored by your past?
While we developed a love and hatred for our fellows,
you were married, having children.
We cried for buddies until tears no longer came
you became foreman of your shift.
We slept in dust, mire, grime and gore
you bought a new house.
We drank too much, when we could get it, to forget
you racked ‘em up at the club.
We ate lurps, or C’s, or zip chow
you barbequed on the grill.
We fought a losing battle for what was right, to
protect the way of life you were developing,
you watched us on the news.
We read about you in letters, if you sent any
you cursed us in the streets.
We held onto our dreams for survival.
You had friends, family, and work
we had brothers, booze, drugs, and war.
You punched your clock and became comfortable
we punched through and tried to survive.
You screamed, “Get Out!” Finally we did.
You were home to us, we came back
to you, some of us alive, for what?
You have had so much because we
were not competing with you.
You asked so much of us, which we gave freely.
We ask so little, a chance to work, a chance at life.
You said we are damaged goods, criminals.
A chance to regain emotions drained.
You said we are crazy, unbalanced,
a chance to be human again.
We really are different from you.
You are stagnant, lifeless,
we learned what to live, really means

Comrade in Arms

I hear the voice crying out
into the paddies I stare
but damn it’s black and
have I the courage to dare?

Some didn’t make it,
I took a body count
but if he is alive
enough to cry out?

Maybe a trick
been done before
can’t just stand here
just inside the door.

Light a cigarette
try to close my ears
maybe if I pretend it
won’t be there to hear.

Sing, laugh, snarl, curse
make some kind of sound,
anything to drown out
that sound from the ground.

Oh, hell can’t
take it anymore
grab my rifle
head for the door.

Where is that voice
don’t dare show a light
why the hell am I here
mud, Charlie, wet, night?

Black, I’m freezing
eighty pounds of gear
one hundred ten heat
I’ve got to be near.

There he is
can’t quite reach,
just across the path a
filthy, muddy beach.

Can you move?
How bad are you hurt?
Come on!, try to reach me,
damn, damn this dirt.

Try to get over the path
just a few feet
I’ll get you rest of the way
won’t that be neat.

Shit, what happened?
Goddamn mine
it’s all my fault
mine, all mine.

Why did I make him come,
he was still alive
if I had stayed back
he might have survived.

tracers walking towards me
just what I need now, stay
back damnit, don’t try to see.

I’m bringing him back
using all my skill,
they’ll have to try harder
if it’s me they are going to kill.

Ok, tie down the rifle
dump the damn pack
come on Joe I’ll
put you on my back.

Swimming through the mud
eating growing green rice
don’t think, just act
things here aren’t very nice.

Crawl under the water
use the bodies for cover
thirty more feet and
the worst will be over.

Suckers are getting close
they won’t get me,
have to be shooting blind ‘cause
I sure as hell can’t see.

Jesus, he’s hurt, but
the mine only stunned
once again we prove our toughness
Charlie was outgunned!