Marines on the DMZ

Marines hump a river trail

Marines hiking a rice paddy dike

California Dreamin'
by Gary Jacobson © 2000

O California dreams take me away
Away from Nam’s ever intemperate fray.
From this scooped out foxhole
Exacting in my mind a terrible toll
My psyche out of control
Hard summer fear
I don't want to make this a career...
Take me away from here, hear...

Take me to a place softer,
where in childhood I still play
O, I’m there every day...
back in “the world” where innocent I dream
A sacred dream
A sweet dream.

Of my home in California
Far and away from Nam’s mania
I dream
With longing heart fantasy serene.
Of life away from war’s primal scream
Bless me never again to see such horror
Participate in such unspeakable terror.

But here I sit in a foxhole liv’n,
Just dreamin’
Of where men don’t try to kill men,
Dreamin’ of the fruits of a boyhood land
Of “the world” far and away from searing sand.
Take me away from foul remembering
Of a day with full pack humping
Days and nights writhing
Combat dressed with one eye open...
To coming battle’s consternation
Still footsore from an infantryman’s occupation
Breathing immoral devastation
In this land of conflagration indiscreet...
God, am I gonna die in this heat?

I’m just a boy dreamin’ of his car
Far and away from mankind’s war
Dreamin’ on a moonlit star...
Yet fearing that same starlight
Formidably shining moonlight...
It shines too brightly with damned light
So men trying to kill me can seal my fate
Where all around wafts consummate hate
Feelings of loathing irate
That the very air insatiate...

I’m just a California boy
Dreamin’ of his girl
That back at home, grade-A pearl
That girl so pretty
It’s a dad blamed pity...
Can’t help but think about her all the time
Waiting for me to make her mine
Taste her honeyed lips so fine
My dream divine...
I’m dreamin’ of how happy I’ll be
To get back home across that sorrowful sea
All that stands between you and me...
Dreamin’ of fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters
Fighting off evil dreams pervading
Of men out there to kill me conspiring
Schemes of booby traps devising
Vietcong agitating
To kill a sorry GI
In their boggy jungle morasses
To ambush him
In their waving elephant grasses
To deaden his life
In their jungle dark as molasses.
I fear most nightmare dreams in moonless black
Darkening nighttime dreams my sanity wrack
Dreamin’ of creeping men coming in banzai attack.

I can’t help but dream of home,
I never so dearly appreciated
My sweet home,
So precious in dreams anticipated
But I know outside of dreams sugared ambrosian
I may never see “the world” again
All I have is dreamin’
Boys have to be believin’
Boys have to be hopin’
Men have to be prayin’...
No matter if I fight with might Herculean
This dreamin’ Californian
This grunt will never again
Be just a civilian
Never will return
From a warrior’s life machiavellian
Retrieve fading spirits
Of the good life Dionysian...
For fear’s like a knife that in a soul cuts
Eating wantonly at a man’s guts.
So he will never...
Find shelter from death falling like bitter rain
Never! Never...
Earn peaceful reprieve from this life of pain.

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