Nam Yonder and Back

Over lush mounds and valleys of Vietnam
over rolling hills and jagged crests
reminiscent of the Appalachians and
other mountains back home in yonder west
our boys arrived “yahoo’ing” ’bout helping
the Vietnamese against their commie brothers.

Muscles tanned or naturally dark flexed
oiled by sweat glistening in the heavy
heat of the tropical east, government issues
came to fight fed by jingoes ready made,
in the name of freedom, in a foreign land
whose name they call Nam

youthful smiles aged overnight when reality set in
too cruel to be lived without hallucinogens
conquering fears, creating immediate suicidal heroes
… soon Viets became ‘gooks, slopes or slants’
can’t tell them one from another
get them all before they get to you
can always justify it later in an AAR

eyes squinting focusing on moving bushes in the dark
a burning roach smoked during down time, or clutching a sweetheart or family pictures as talisman,
Charlie* and mosquitoes and terror are just
some of the things to keep you company

ambush thwarted just for now, Snake chopper chopping
Charlie air as friends and superiors die like flies dropping
one by one around you, and you wonder when will
the chopper come for you in a body bag?

deadmen’s boots and bloody fatigues in shreds stacked
on the ground as dog tags read aloud and filled in rosters
lie in a pile gleam in the charcoal night while half alive bros
black, white and brown carry ‘glad bags’ into trucks

in a hand-to-hand combat when they bayonet
their enemies, the last words heard is the same
as that of a yankee, mẹ and mother were the last
words uttered on both sides of the front

now cheery yahoos drown in gaping craters
hundreds of thousands lost limbs and lives
fighting against people who just wanted to be free
both fought for the same principle
that of democracy

– Rosana Sam

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