I know I promised to write you Kate and this letter
is way past late.
I remember I scorned your fears. Vowed a letter every day.
But, Oh my love - I simply don’t know what to say.
Remember my mate Davo? That day you met
us, tall n’proud.
On leave in Melbourne. Both of us, pissed and far too loud.
You remember. You said you thought he was rude and wished he’d go away.
Well - Davo got brassed up the other day.
He went to help a wounded grunt, just couldn’t
let it pass,
when a Noggy with an AK sat him on his arse.
None of us were with him when he leapt into the fray.
But I know that every one of us, lost a friend that day.
He wanted to have a party, if we all got back.
He asked that you might give a kiss, just a friendly peck.
He made me swear to bring you ‘cos he thought that you were nice
and he wanted a great big chocolate cake with lots of beer on ice.
I told him I was sure you’d plant one on his brow.
I hoped you wouldn’t mind, but it doesn’t matter now.
Davo won’t see twenty and nothing’ll be the same.
I’m sure glad my tears were hidden by the rain.
I’ll write. I will. I promise.
I’ll write you a better one tonight.
When this ******* rain has stopped and the J is shut down tight.
I’ll try again. I promise. I’ll start it right away.
Oh, and did I mention? ...... I think I killed someone today.
Home from Nam! - Mostly whole and glad to be alive.
Not courting cheers, nor expecting jeers,
but where was home’s lost sanctuary?
Changed - like us. Not found. Not here.
Doing then what we did best, we fought,
ensnared in a hidden war that never ends.
Fighting daily, covert battles;
no more a victim for fickle friends.
Verbal blows, as may be struck by blinkered minds,
cause pain and linger more than once they did.
While aging, soldier hides wear thin,
oft’ at the hand of those who stayed, or those who hid.
We, who went where others would not.
We who stood before the foe.
We, who did what others could not,
To us the right to break the bow.
Where were you when duty called us,
when honour demanded nothing less?
When men too young surrendered youth
and rose up as one to the final test.
Yes. We it was answered freedom’s call,
you who disavow our youthful, reckless use of might,
you, with hindsight clear and sabres rattling, forget.
It was for you too we fought - because, we believed it right.
I met an old woman who, in her old woman’s way,
pined for lost loves and a son; taken one day.
The letter was kind, he didn’t suffer they said.
She felt proud and she sobbed; it’s for his country he’s dead.
Unguarded, in a moment of aged reverie,
memory breached mind’s treachery.
Was it her son I’d found there in the jungle?
Was it her love lay there, was it his hand I’d held?
Broken and bleeding, was it his fear I’d quelled?
I didn’t dare ask her as I helped her to stand,
for I’d lied to him there with his blood on my hands.
“You’ll be right mate, you’re goin’ home.
You’ll be flying first class.” - while he coughed bloody foam.
His life ebbed so slowly and he asked again “Why?”
With nothing to tell him, I repeated the lie.
“Watch for the chopper mate. You’ll be the first one I’ll fly
and the Sarge said ‘no leave’ - so don’t you dare die.”
I remember his chuckle, sometimes hear it today,
in a crowd, in a pub, in a park or a club,
or when I’m alone - in vivid replay.
His life audibly drained, he chuckles again.
“That’d be right Doc - He’d make me stay.”
I helped her once more as she boarded her bus
- stoically, painfully slow.
As I waved a friendly goodbye and turned, too quickly, to go,
I grieved for lost truth, in humanity’s swift flow.
Was it her son I’d held there as his life ebbed so low,
in that stinking, wet jungle - would it help her to know?
From a morphine dream, where the world holds no
he’d smiled without speaking when it started to rain
and it was later I learned he’d not spoken again.
Not when the Dustoff bore him away.
Not to the chaplain who offered to pray
and not to a soul still here this day.
Its with tears I remember him and how long forgot.
Just another young digger, among a helluva lot.
A tragic parade filled by Australia’s lost sons
and still suffering in silence, all of their mums.
Ask those lost souls who have stood before
and breathed the foul breath of the dogs of war.
They raise their silenced voices and
to a world not listening, cry as one,
‘No More – No More.’