Marines carrying wounded
napalm's bright fire
smoke fills the valleys
Marines in muck
torching a ville
Golden Bamboo
Poetic foursome: Trial by Fire, Fighting Hole, Endless War, War's Lessons.
Music: A piece I call "Nam Wall"

Golden Bamboo
FNG Newby, twink, rookie! Veteran, hot, tired, dirty...fear a constant!

Trial by Fire by Gary Jacobson © 2002
The trial by fire does now begin
That will never, ever, really end
When in-country, new twinks the Army does send
Twinks who fiercely in God and country do believe
Just fresh faced boys sent gung-ho naive,
Brave duty to with all their might relieve!

He's just a rookie, a wet behind the ears newby
What sights between now ... and then, he’ll see.
Veterans are men who youth's brash foolishness decry
With wisdom aged beyond their years belie
They've learned how not to die.
Experienced, practised, on the job combat trained.

FNGs must quickly adapt, like them, to survive.
Watch old and wily veterans, if you hope to stay alive
Veterans deadly proficient in killing skills
That the Colonel's quota fills...
Veterans see things on that trail, that newbies cannot see
So only move, when they move, if you hope to be.

Fresh soldier boys far from home go roaming
Mother liberty to Vietnam bringing
Over the heartbreak sea to this twilight gloaming
Must transition with veterans blend
Must the ways of grizzled veterans'comprehend
From Sunrise, to Sunset, back to the world at year's end.

Newbies must learn quickly ... or die quickly, alas
Standing straight, standing tall, green as new mown grass.
Combat infantrymen in new uniforms so cool
Yet need to learn combat’s golden rule...
Get some...
Before they get you, son.

Our nation’s best and brightest
Sent bravely bristling to that Indo-China War fest
Young men sent gloriously, pompously, to battle's fore
Go gallantly, perhaps to die, for precepts they adore
What a sight, rookies wielding weapons with such firepower
Weapons designed to make evan the strongest Cong cower.

Too soon he’ll be up to his armpits in blood and muck
Too soon he’ll be praying to heaven for supernal luck
Too soon he’ll never again smile
Nevermore the same boy who lived with you awhile
He who at your knee you taught the love of all life
Now brought in the land of killing tormenting strife.

War brings conflicting ideas of love, joy and peace
Restricting ideas amid jumbled values never cease
Confused by contradictory forces, your source of joy
Made uneasy by inconsistent impulses, your soldier boy
Taught painstakingly, “Thou shalt not kill,”
Then handed a gun and taught to kill at will.

Give Charlie a taste of American sweet and sour
With morality to decimate very mortality
Watch as the cleansing fire of napalm
Wipes away his past and present, his very future embalm
Xin Loi, hope they were all Vietcong
Don’t much matter now anyway ... so long!

What soldier boys have become no one can see
So far away in distant war off the South China Sea
Living life where very life is an assault
Whether on the enemies around us dealt
M-16s blazing on rock-and-roll
Raining death around in terrible toll
Smoke creeping insidiously in valleys below.

Kiss your boys goodbye
Gone to fight for that great lie
Just boys, these men intrepid
Waging this winner’s war lionhearted
GIs governed by politics discreet
Brave men left behind, in this tragic deceit.

foxhole society

Fighting Hole
by Gary Jacobson © 2002
Pick a spot and sit awhile, at this man’s fighting hole
Where normalcy among abnormal conditions cleanse the soul.
Rest your weary bones in mind and spirit
Even get a shower in a helmet
Shit and shave without being shot at
Cheered on from afar by the corporeal fat-cat
Back in Washington overseeing this primordial spat
This little “police action” gambit
Washington’s pawns, uh, er, soldiers dug in midst the jungle armpit
Where you can clean your rifle while you dream of home
Eat C-rations, sleep, stare into the jungle, write letters home
Think of your girl, your car, what you’ll do when you again roam
Take that big silver bird to the land of the great PX back home.
Whether dug in a new hole on patrol over night
Or in a sandbag hooch at LZs perimeter, stage right
Jungle society revolves around words from “the world”
Very morale depends on home news in letters unfurled.
Fancy this foxhole buddies foursome
Just hanging out beside their sticks and mud dome
Where it makes it so easy to zip me up and ship me home!

Endless War
by Gary Jacobson © 2002
Endless war raging in my heart
Impart a deadly virus in past greening jungle’s did start
Where war’s fingers from long ago reached out
Welcoming demons, still coming with hue and shout
Belching fire and smoke, they burn bridges reaching above
Raging flames torching ones I dearly love.

I strive to stifle the flames
Burning other Nam mind games
With my senses in here-and-now reality
Still fighting wars-to-end-all war insanity
Yesterday, today, tomorrow
Peaceful balm of Gilead would I borrow.

Yet angry thoughts adhere, sticky, aromatic, resinous.
O protect me from times so treacherous.
Save me from evils my soul infatuate.
Dissolve cankerous lesions making me feel inadequate.
Rule my heart, my mind, my body, where lies forever anxiety.
Lead me through those pathways of impropriety.

Make this warrior whole again
This boy, this man, step out and face the world again
From things I buried down deep unburdened
By Thy Holy Might my unwieldy, chastened load, released
That I might again believe
Thy great blessings receive.
War’s lessons
by Gary Jacobson © 2002
O that I might decipher war’s lessons
Might more clearly smell life’s bounteous blossoms
Like where have all the flowers gone
Here in the world, beyond the dawn.

O, that I would not have to again fight them
In meaninglessly, again and again regimen...
Taught at the heels of a master teacher,
Reveling uproarious in the glorious fight preacher.

Ride that carnivorous whirlwind of war’s bestial ogre
Life’s roller-coaster ride in extreme’s wildly polar
Birthing both reason and illogical obsession,
Peace in benevolence or pathological hatred’s oppression.

For some with all your heart love and adore
Some you despicably abhor
Bring battalions of students, a new set of senses to learn
Sparking both optimism and depression to earn.

War makes some atheists God loving humanists
While making some God loving men atheists
Sent back from the sinful world apologists
War’s cantankerous contagions around them churn.

Some forever in their hearts will lessons of war learn
Leaning closer to hear God’s will they yearn
While others can only say, “Burn baby, burn.”
Bring ‘em on, it’s their turn to learn.

Some see what happens controlled by the roll of the dice
In war caused by men’s callous greed and avarice.
Some repeat war’s same old mistakes with reticence
Live thirty-five years, one-at-a-time, in sublime indifference.

War does the carnal inspire
Brings back to life that painful funeral pyre
But warriors emerge through the mouth of holy fire
Leap through heat and noxious flames dire.

Forevermore, old warriors the war’s conflagration influences
Learned by the sword cultural differences.
Not with joined wisdom of thirty-five years deference
Seek the ephemeral peace, an abiding preference.

For old warriors have seen war’s rewards first hand
Know qualities of peace, compassion, love, first hand,
Helping others struggle with angers
Living by the kindness of strangers.

They help others get through hellish PTSD
At the same time helping future generations to see...
To learn from veterans who survived war
What it’s really for, war ...

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Vietnam Poems index,
American dove
Each poem with more graphics and Pictures!

VIETNAM PICTURE TOUR from the lens of a combat infantryman
Through pictures and poetry take a walk in "the park" with the 1st Air Cavalry on combat patrol. Experience the chilling reality that will give you the taste of "the Nam" on your tongue, leave the pungent smell of "the Nam" in your nostrils, and imbed textures of "the Nam" in your brain as though you were walking beside me in combat.