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thousandYardStare


UncleRiverine My Thousand Yard Stare A combat grunt

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by Gary Jacobson © 1999
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I sit at a table in the middle of the day
Looking out my window, not a lot to say.
TV blaring ... newspaper in front of me unread,
People see me, think I must be dead.
Talk to me ... Walk by me, Iím totally unaware.
Iím back there!
At the end of my Thousand Yard Stare!
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Khe Sanh Pass
Khe Sahn Hills
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Carried out my back yard, again sweating hard,
Up over the mountains ... across the deep blue sea,
Where again Nam waits every day for me.
Again loaded for bear, Iím back there,
At the end of my Thousand Yard Stare!
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Hot, tired, dirty...fear a constant!
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Every day, every night, reliving deepest fright,
With my very soul eternally fight
The eternal fight,
Time after time ... in exhausting combat rhyme.
Doesnít anybody for me care
Here...or there,
At the end of my Thousand Yard Stare!
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Hand me a bottle to drink away my sorrow,
'Cause I donít want to go back there tomorrow,
But I will, oh I will ... tho' dread does my heart fill.
I go there every day,
Tho' God knows I try not to in every way.
For sometimes life is hard to bear
At the end of my Thousand Yard Stare!
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Listen, did you hear something?
Something rustling ... something moving!
Whatís that in the tree line?
Pass that Thunderbird wine.
Did something behind that bush move there?
Please Lord, I donít want to go back there,
Back to the end of my Thousand Yard Stare!
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firefight
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Were we wrong, or were we right?
I still donít know! Either way, I still had to go.
Doesnít matter, we still had to fight,
Giving our all in heart-pumping might.
We had no choice but walking the park
From dawn to dark,
Humping, sweating, grunting ... thinking of dying.
I couldnít then, but now I can ... cry
With the eternal question why?
Did I Vietnamís fragrant fabric of life tear,
At the end of my Thousand Yard Stare?
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Iím once again on combat patrol,
Going crazy in this jungle hell hole,
Again fearing my old friend death
Afraid to take a deep breath
Lest someone hear me thatís trying to kill,
This infantryman who's primed to kill...
Donít touch me unless you too wish to die
Out in the killing zone, so far from home,
Lost and so all alone
Watching friends bleed and die there,
Wondering why is it not me back there,
At the end of my Thousand Yard Stare!
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Then I see him ... hovering in jungled light dim,
Grinning grotesquely ... hideously ... at me.
My Vietcong brother, causes an involuntarily shudder,
For death once again rides sweet and sour air,
At the end of my Thousand Yard Stare!
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My heart floods with anguish, that years cannot extinguish.
My sanity I again relinquish
Seeing again the man I killed so long ago ... grinning so,
My erstwhile foe,
Waiting for me back there
At the end of my Thousand Yard Stare!
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Did I really kill him? Or did he kill me?
In my ptsd itís so hard to see.
Will he finally set me free,
From my daily tour back there,
To the end of my Thousand Yard Stare?
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Is that old Vietcong haunting me ... or am I haunting him?
Will Charley this time my blood spill on the ground?
Will I fall without a sound,
Again in suffering despair,
At the end of my Thousand Yard Stare?
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ThousandYardStare
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Suddenly thereís smoke, a deafening roar the dead awoke.
Comes again a pungent smell,
That acrid smell of death, reminiscent of hell
That old Vietcongís lying on the ground ... without a sound,
Without a face, no more his family to grace.
Again thereís a tear in my eye
As I silently wonder why this man had to die?
Forlornly, Horribly
Moldering in his grave back there,
Why is it not me back there,
At the end of my Thousand Yard Stare?
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Hours later Iím back at my table,
Back from a world grisly unstable,
Back from my Thousand Yard Stare.
But I know heís still waiting back there,
Of this Iím certain, for Iíll see him tomorrow,
When fevered winds blow ... again Iíll cry,
Maybe this time Iíll die!
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Why Lord, canít I contented be
In the arms of my lofty mountain's safety,
The purple plains majesty,
Home again in the land of the free,
In the loving arms of my family?
Tho' stresses of the Nam yet bind,
Imbedded in my fevered mind.
Why canít I give it a rest? Didnít I pass the test?
Why God, do I have to go back where men hate me there,
Intently try to kill me there
At the end of my Thousand Yard Stare?
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When you see my Thousand Yard Stare,
Youíll know Iím back there,
To face another dawn, again searching for the Vietcong!
Will you miss me when Iím gone?
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streetFighting


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"My Thousand Yard Stare," was awarded the inaugural "Top Poet Bronze Helmet Award," from the "International War Veterans Poetry Archive."
Top Poet_Bronze Helmet Award
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patrol
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InfantryStare


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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.
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