Song playing is Sunrise ~ Sunset, by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

taps at the wall
173rd Airborne in the A Shau Valley 1st Cav dead Ia Drang

Looking at these last two pictures, I know that some won't approve, thinking they are just too terrible to be seen. They are right ... they are terrible. But we must see them. We must! We must see the boy next door in them. We must see our children in them, or inexorably, they will be! We must know this is the fruits of war, the harvest of our sons, for war is not some game we play. War is not a game of patty cake, for real bullets fly there, and the blood the soldier sheds is red, and sticky, and oh too real , and death is finite there. We must learn war's lessons now!
Patty Cake
by Gary Jacobson copyright February 2006

Some people the realistic gore of war abhor
From scenes of war close their eyes to ignore
They simper and sigh, "Don't make war seem so bloody awful"
Advocating "Turn your heads now, think of something cheerful."
Don't show us scenes of death and dying
Don't look! They'll render us to crying.

Give us a cleaned up version of war in retrospect
An antiseptic tale told, not of fears abject
We only want to hear of war sacrosanct
Sanitized, so as not to offend genteel sensibilities
You understand, man ... remember your responsibilities
Polite societies amenities.

Don't make war sound too bad
Don't make it too intolerably sad
Or patriotic boys won't want to go there
Aspiring to arms for their country to bear.
We don't want to hear stories of blood, guts, and gore
For we truly think war overplayed is a bore.

Make our heroes brave, courageous and pure
Wholesome, upright men, enjoying real adventure
Show the fight for right always good
Talk up the blood brotherhood.
We don't want your barefaced turn-off
If you show me wrong things, I'll have to beg off.

Oh yes, people xin loi, we had a great old time
Bivouacking in the jungle, in tune with nature's rhyme
With no time to complain or pine
We took lots of nature hikes
With a right nice group of Boy Scout types
Real cupcakes.

People never got shot there, cause we just threw rocks
Playin' tag with friendly, neighborhood VC in the boondocks
Just shuckin' an jivin' to his jungle beat
Gettin' luxuriating suntans in sauna-like heat
With our local host PAVN playing pattycake
Dancin' with the devil an his two-step viper snake.

Don't they know war has lessons we must learn
That turning your head from reality will not true knowledge earn
But will keep us in the deadly dews and darks
Fighting, bleeding and dying in a series of foreign parks
Bound to repeat war's mistakes again and again incredible
If you don't show the truth, it just makes war acceptable.

For war is real
Your death war will seal
The bullets that fly are real there
Blood shed by our brothers is red and sticky there
War is no joke
Playing patty cake with right friendly folk...


by Gary Jacobson � February 2006

Life's span
Travels from sunrise to sunset
Life's plan
From birth to death well met
Where gently flow the hours
Years passing, growing, progressing
Yet taking time to smell the glorious flowers
Along life's tender byways pausing.

Moving harmoniously
Slowly passing the years fragile ages
Sunrise to maturity
Heedless of the world's rat race that rages
Taking the good life as it comes responsibly
Spending judicious moments in time
Enjoying a gently syncopated rhyme.

Life is radiant laughter
Drifting lazily through the trees
Vibrant music softer than a breeze
Driving us to our knees
The soul's insistent wind
Our heart-strings tugging
That through the mortality's wend.

Sing songs sung by warrior poets
Thrilling the taste of pure mountain air
Heady with smells of fragrant bluebonnets
With nary a thought of dreary despair
Through adventures of life so thrilling
Born at sunrise first light
Primal life so fresh and clean beaming
Lasting the ages til sunset's somber night.

To those you love
Reach often to joyfully touch
Gleaning wisdom in the garden of life from above
There is no such thing as loving too much
Be always who you must be
True to yourself from sunrise to sunset
For the truth in spirit shall set you free
Deigning rumors, live beyond regret.

Too often wars raging with shock-and-awe beget
Terrors destroying life's sunrise, quickening sunset's doom
Boys grow up too quick, to pass into life's sunset
Violent demons of war cause them to grow too old, too soon
Too soon opening abject wounds of body and spirit
Too soon fileting fragile childhood like with a big boning knife
Stilling the singing till dying's day, raw, frightened, desperate
Music roiling, a victim's plague cankering, till sunset of life.

War destroys values parents carefully taught
Fracturing souls haunted by life's corrupting decay
Surviving traumatic wars with great evil fraught
Obsessively learning terrible dark lessons from battle's fiery fray
Learn to hate, to kill, rather than live in God's own peace
Each day becoming less than you were, dawning gray
Where each day living with loving precepts decrease
Ruled by anxieties from a dark yesterday.

Something died way back there
Where a nation's youth were called
Egregiously wounded back there
Innocently restoring light of freedoms palled
Called by our leaders to serve and protect
To safeguard our brave nation by terror galled
Sent to a far-away country, change to effect
Selected to save us all from perils of evil elect.

Leaders often take a line-in-the-sand stand
But too often we in the killing zone fighting
Do not understand
Our contending in jungle or sand through fears chafing
Blood spilt on withering souls to psyches bend
Told no more than to go, to do or die
Knowing not truth's story of this land we defend
To the scope of what we do to for life decry.

Army intelligence is dispensed on a need-to-know basis
And grunts just don't need to know
Or so they tell us with ever-shrewd analysis
So as the years trudging by go
The killing becomes easier and easier
Remembering in fitful dreams vagaries of hostilities bought.
Life gets angrier and angrier
Abiding memories of past battle's fought.

Nightly my fallen comrades-in-arms
Unbidden spirits come marching in
Rejuvenating past terrors from a world of harms
Torments renewed by cacophonous din within
Ghosts rudely humping before me grinning
Parading by, imposed on erratic sleep wrought
Before my wearied eyes till life's sunset waning
Apparitions of boyish smiles fading naught.

Yet the clattering chaos I'm hearing absurd
Tasting the mud and blood in each filthy breath
Flown again to battle on the wings of a drab green bird
Joined with grisly smells of moldering jungle death
Whump whump whump hearing, to the depths of me blaring
Faces from long ago past, clear as day remembering
Still rocking and rolling in night-sweats scaring
Days of my sunset back there, mid fighting and dying.

Once you have looked into the face of darkness
You live with it for the rest of your life
Nightly, all their faces stare at me in earnestness
Memories like shards cutting through my being like a knife
Every time ... it's so hard to take, my nightly breaking
Humbling me with thoughts that, I too should be there
Voices beseeching, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling
Seek the greater hope in loving good care.

Phillipian 2: 12-17
"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that neither have I not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all."

American dove Visit my Vietnam Poems index,
each poem with more combat action
graphics and Pictures

VIETNAM PICTURE TOUR from the lens and poet's pen of a combat infantryman
from the lens of a combat infantryman!

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