A Memorable Nature Hike
by Phillip E. Carpenter
Saturday, October 12, 2002
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“Fall in,ladies,” Cap said, “put your effing pot on your head,
secure your gear, keep your piece near, don't take long.
You know Charlie is gnarly, but we're mean and snarly,
and we're gonna get beaucoup Cong.”
Gooney bird flight, taking off at night,
yeah, what a brave and glorious humping.
With M-16 and big pack glued to my back,
I was mostly concerned about jumping.
Just young man-boys, full of boy's noise,
our team numbered and even ten.
The guys and me were tough as could be,
or so it seemed to me then.
The DZ came nigh, we stood with a sigh,
and our stick clipped to the static line.
“Airborne!” came the yell, so we jumped and fell,
praying our ripcords worked fine.
Ouchies from trees hit with bended knees,
but most fell in the elephant grass.
One troop spilled his chute, it wasn’t real cute,
he majorly broke his ass.
No evac for him, which made it grim,
our mission was clandestine.
So we humped for Chu Bai, eating MRE's on the fly,
no time for cheese and wine.
The VC got lucky, guess they felt real plucky
eight clicks down the Au Shau trail.
We tried to hide, drew ourselves inside,
but all to no avail.
Smart little slopes, they dashed our hopes,
forced us to deploy most ricky-tick.
They'd mined the path, off to the sides for a laugh,
knowing we'd go there, it wasn't fair, a really dirty trick.
The mines did a cool job, we lost Dirty Bob,
and Harry and the Frisco Kid.
Yeah, the black ‘jama bunch really had us for lunch
and my shorts had some serious skid.
Man, they opened up hard, a slaughter yard,
AK’s sang their deadly song.
My Dai-wee was hit, I was scared as shit,
this was one place I didn’t belong.
I ran to his side, shouldered him up for a ride,
and dee-dee'd mau len to the bush.
Big effing mess on his thigh, inside, way up high,
blood coming out with a rush.
Then the VC patrol came over the knoll,
seeking more bayonet fodder for fun.
Cap started to scream like in a bad dream,
his pain too much for anyone.
Heart a triphammer I started to stammer,
“Shut up, for God’s sake or we’re dead!”
But Cap screamed on, all control gone,
so I grabbed him by the head.
Hands over his face with distinct lack of grace,
I gripped him like a vice.
He finally stilled, but in fact had been killed,
guess I hadn’t been very nice.
Adrenalin surging without any urging,
I finally crept out into the night.
To my surprise, found most of the guys,
but our numbers now were quite light.
As the second looie, I called for a Huey
and marked out a red smoke LZ.
Five live greenies retrieved, all greatly relieved,
from a place we never wanted to be.
Our mission aborted, we were then escorted
to debriefing at Firebase Four.
I was rotated out, round and about,
back to the World once more.
Medics later told me it was easy to see,
Cap bled out and I wasn’t to blame.
But in my heart I know, it just wasn’t so,
and I’ll always carry that shame.
Now, for some reason, no matter the season,
I just can’t seem to go hunting again.
My nights aren’t too restful, ‘cause I have a chestfull,
of nightmares of times back then.
I’m old and grey now, and seems as how,
time helps make the pain slowly fade.
But I can’t pretend there will be an end
to regrets for mistakes I’ve made.
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|Reviewed by Tom Sutherland
|Awesome, gritty, plain talk every Viet Nam vet should read to his family so maybe they'd understand what it was like better and get some faint idea of the kind of closet skeletons guys brought back with them. Great rhyming, heavy story. Very impressive.|
|Reviewed by Lily
|Scary, sad, vivid, creative, emotional piece that made me think about the ramifications of humans propensity to make war and the residual effects that go on forever. A rare masterpiece of a subject poets usually shun, told from a unique perspective. I suspect this is not a complete fabrication of imagination and therefore even more poignant.|