by Gary Jacobson © April 2006
I see them through tears welling in my eye
Try to stop raging rivers I might as well try
Boys ... no, now men, standing at the end of the hall
Sight of them my poor spirit enthrall
Men I haven't seen since tempestuously awful days long ago.
Days held in infamy for thirty-nine years, or so.
These men who in days of yore offered their all
This band of brothers occupying nightly dreams since my fall
Beside me again, brothers of the sword and the torment
Forged in the hour of blood and discontent
When this combat infantryman bit the dust
Since days I gave way to combatís bloody rust
Now about to greet my brothers-in-arms, I must...
For I have marched with this band-of-brothers in dreams
Walked tangled wood where repugnant horror teems
We were much younger then when we humped the gear
Remember days of piss and vinegar with wall-to-wall fear
Digging foxholes, hiking, laughing, living with these men
Humping the knotty shadow's rustic den...
Just another klick, or twenty ... where have the good times gone
Thirty-nine years ... what happened to fighting prime brawn?
Some still brandish raw-hide tough fighting machines
Most do not, gone a long way from our teens...
Some haunted by fetid memories that will not let them be
Some still fight long ago battles in their mind they see...
Now old men,
These brothers of the Nam who once tempted fate irate
Some balding, some gray, some paunchy and overweight
Now remembering good times
Haunted by bad times
The best of men
The worst of men...
I've not seen them since we roamed jungles black and deep
Since we scaled the highlands where eagles keep
Since we humped the killing zone
Dancing on the edge of death, so far from home
Together in dinky dau times that try men's souls
Times determining where our future goes.
Remember playing deadly games with the NVA brigand
Negotiating raging rivers to tropical savanna grassland
Wary of Vietcong Papasan our way defying
His greatest wish preoccupied with our dying
Remember vile smells of rotting death wafting in jungle air
Fetid fear a constant despair ... put way back there.
Remember times that after thirty-nine years live with us still
Vietnam memories buried way down deep old soldiers fill.
Remember when we came in-country strapping brave youth
Patrolling eye-high elephant grasses rude and uncouth
Bearing war weapons of lightning with thunder malevolent
Hoping to remain to sweet life somehow relevant.
We laughed so we wouldn't have to think where we were
Bravely fearless to make bad times go like a blur
Beaucoup young, gung-ho and naive
By the cruel war made disillusioned men to deceive
Veterans only hoping to survive
Long enough to make it back to "the world" alive.
Now again back-to-back, again we face the past
Remembering times that will forever last
Beside men we walked the lip of death with
Men who mid fear and a leap of faith
We cast our lot with ... faced the devil with
Stood before the bar of judgement with.
With this motley crew mixed and matched
We laughed, we dreamed, we bellyached...
Men of Mississippi, New Jersey, California, Oklahoma bonded
We'd only two choices, do it or die, so we responded
Defended each other for very life depended
Gained deeply abiding love for combat brothers engendered.
We became as one in this world of harms, there were no others
Black, white, red, yellow or polka-dotted men war gathers.
Family and boyhood friends so very far away
Far from this life-and-death passion play
So this band-of-brothers worked cooperatively, intimately
Closely together in concert, forever as one, courageously.