© C Martin 1985

Honour marched courageous hearts
through our city streets.
Joyous youth corrupt, defiled,
by the touch of lethal steel.
Boys made men we were sent back then,
to be our lands elite.
To join in battle on foreign soil.
To be the chosen few.

War is War; nothing more.

Violent noise and beating rain,
Hot metal screams, torn flesh steams.
Blood, mud, fear, pain;

War is War; nothing more.

By war's swift touch a life lays broken,
pleading eyes leave nothing unspoken.
A clutching hand slowly loosens
and when Death shrieks its triumph,
a boy man answers.

War is War; nothing more.

Some returned, the "Lucky Ones",
to safety, friends, to make amends,
to dull the pain - to feel the same.
To give mother's the lie to light pride's flame.
"He died for us all, no fear - no pain."
Though its we saw the truth,
and its we know the shame.

War is War; nothing more.

A dream, a shadow in night's soft sounds
strips Morpheus' cloak and a cry resounds.
He leaps awake to a call half heard,
repelling fear with his muttered words.
"A dream - not real, I'm safe; I'm home."

War is War; nothing more.

Were the lessons learned?
The price was paid.
The marches marched
and the wreaths all laid.
You speak of honour and you speak of glory,
you speak of courage when you tell our story,
but when the count is in, and the costs are weighed;
Its never been worth the price we've paid.
Wheels within wheels; will you still doubt the sin,
when the web at last breaks and the debts are called in?

War is war; is war - is war. Nothing more.

The next one was written quite some time later and was an attempt
to communicate the constant dread that seemed to lurk in the background
during combat, always there, like it was waiting - just waiting.

By: Chick Martin

© C Martin 1997

Sunlight streams, jungle steams,

time ticks by with timeless speed,
and painted men, with painted ears,
seek out each sound in desperate need.
While standing near in jungle shadows,
with amoral patience,
simply waits.

Ancient eyes that have seen it all
peer sadly from their boymen faces,
merging well with the jungle's pall,
dismissing thoughts of longed-for places.
While standing near in jungle shadows,
with amoral patience,
simply waits.

Unknown foes creep slow and steady,
the jungle's silence pointing where.
With weapons raised, silent, ready,
hearts are still, all watching there.
While standing near in jungle shadows,
with amoral patience,
simply waits.

A claymore roars and tracers stream,
an F-One sounds like a toy,
and in any tongue a scream's a scream
when a hot frag finds a boy.
While standing near in jungle shadows,

with amoral patience,
simply waits.

Veils of smoke hang in sudden silence,
shattered bodies before us made,
strewn like dolls, thrown in violence;
insulting natures gentle glade.
While standing near in jungle shadows,
with amoral patience,
simply waits.

Some escaped, I see them crawling,
two alive, though most are not.
A furtive movement, someone calling,
not one had heart for the final shot.
While standing near in jungle shadows,
with amoral patience,
simply waits.

Scouts are out to check the tally,
look for things the man might need.
Keep them covered, come don't dally,
time's come to move and move with speed.
For standing near in jungle shadows,
with amoral patience,
simply waits.

By: Chick Martin

© C Martin 1983

Untempered youth plunged into war,
Australia's fodder for Vietnam's maw.
Obediently playing our roles as were taught,
we drank up our tinnies, we hid and we fought.

Search and destroy you military whore,
that's one Noggy bastard who'll shit us no more.
Kill or be killed, count all your shots,
take a man's life, It'll give you the hots.

Blacken your brass boys, have you heard the news?
God is with us - and we can't lose.

By: Chick Martin

© C Martin 1985

Where is the boy we all once knew?
A soul's age from home,
wet thud, pink steam,
torn flesh, splintered bone,
fear's foul stench in a muted scream.
He is fled - Safe now.
Hidden inside a man.

By: Chick Martin

©  C Martin  Feb 2001

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.

The Secret War
©  C Martin 2002

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, and you,
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.

An Old Woman’s Pain
(dedicated to all of their mums)
© C Martin 2001

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 pain,
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.

No More
© Chick Martin April 2003

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.’