Robin Amy Bass

UP AGAINST THE WALL

Part 1

IWVPA Double Tap Award for War Poetry: March 6, 2005
Awarded: March 6, 2005
Up against the wall, fluffy feather pillows
I have propped them up, as the snowfall billows
You have brought the crackers and a round of cheese
We have planned this night, gazing at the trees.

Talking for awhile listening to old tunes
Soon we’re front to back like two favorite spoons
Up against your wall, its starts to come down
As I watch the snow, think I’m gaining ground

You have let me in – let me share your world
As the clock ticks on, slowly you unfurl
Pieces of your heart – stories of your youth
Same side of the wall – you tell me the truth

We lie on the couch, talking late at night
Snow is falling down, blanketing in white
Everything for miles, far as I can see
Shadows cloud your face, when you say to me

When I watch TV – sometimes late at night
I see things have changed – now they do it right.
Public service add – sponsored by some group
Sends the message home – Please support our troops

Please don’t get me wrong – I think that it’s great
But if you’re asking me, it’s just a little late.
Ribbons tied on trees – magnets stuck on cars
Now they all salute – talks of stripes and stars

We learned all the hands moves – Man I got you covered.
Once I was an only child… Back there I had brothers

That’s when I was there, But, when I got home
No one seemed to care – We felt all alone
Learned to say “it ain’t nothing” – we learned how to act
If they didn’t spit – people turned their back

Up against the wall, duffle bags piled high.
No one says hello! No one said goodbye
They sent us to Nam – in shiny combat boots
When they sent us home, no longer new recruits
Men just turn away, straighten up their suits
Stuff their hands in pockets; there is no salute

They sent me to war – we were sent to fight.
They taught me to shoot; to defend our rights.
Keep this country free – foreign countries too.
I saw blood get spilled – brothers from my crew.

Yes, I learned to kill, it was kill or die.
Sometimes Semper Gumby, Sometimes Semper Fi.
Yes, I had to kill. It was them or me.
Keep the women safe. Keep the children free.

I’m no Baby killer – that’s not who I am.
When my tour is finally up, no one shakes my hand.

Up against the wall, mothers, and their kids
Old men with gray beards watching what we did
These are not the ones who we came to fight
This is not the enemy standing in plain sight
Babies start to wail – mothers start to plead
They don’t have a single thing anyone would need.
VC has them cornered – starts interrogation
Charlie’s points the gun at his own dam nation.
Hatred cut with fear has its own vibration.

Charlie’s standing smug – guns pointed at babies.
Like some mongrel dog riddled now with rabies.
And that rabid look of someone who has won.
Charlie’s starts to smirk like he’s having fun.

That’s when we descend – they thought it was done.
Now he ain’t so brave – Charlie and his gun.
Now they’re not so smart – now they’re not so brave.
Now it’s up to us who we’re gonna save.

Up against the wall – Charlie’s looks confused.
Charlie starts to crawl – “Sorry Pal you lose.”
This is not for sport – this is not a game.
They are shooting kids – they have gone insane.
Sorry time is up – your 15 of fame.
Lose your right to choose – it’s hard to explain.

Blood is on their hands. Blood is on mine too.
VC tortured them. What was I to do?
Stop them in their tracks. Send them straight to hell.
Don’t know who to trust – it’s so hard to tell.

I try to forget take – my meds at night.
Listen to soft music as the wall turns turn white.
Stare at cracker crumbs near a round of Gouda
Sent Charlie to hell. Sent him straight to Buddha.

Up against the wall – corned like a beast
Watch my friend’s fall – Nice words like deceased
Do not tell the truth, bloodshed, and the slaughter
Bullets wounds and knives, napalm and the mortar.

Casualties of war – shown on 60 minutes
No one has a clue… not unless you’re in it.
They devote a segment… lasts about ten minutes.
Ratings need a boost. They know how to spin it.

Sometimes they say missing, when they read the news.
Names of those who’ve fallen, it gets me confused.
How they know who’s missing, and just who’s been found
‘Cause when we got off the planes, they just turned around?

Now we have The Wall filled with endless names.
Who they never met – who shouldered the blame.
They point to Our Wall to assuage the guilt
They spit on our shoes as our blood was spilt

Up against the wall, they lined up with signs.
They spit at our wounded, acted deaf and blind.
They called me a killer – lumped me in some group.
Now they have a magnet – Says support our troops.

They yelled baby killer – burned the stripes and stars
Now they got these magnets stick them on their cars
These kids all are heroes when they come back home
We should support our soldiers so they’re not alone.

Up against the wall, mother takes a pencil
To extract a name – now her son’s a stencil
That is all that’s left – that cannot erase
How they treat him – It’s a dam disgrace.

Some came home with heads wounds, some in body bags.
Those who were still living had to hide their tags
Men who served their country put on Uniforms.
Objects of derision looked upon with scorn.

Lean against a wall, filling out a form.
Doesn’t ask the day I died – so I write the day I’m born.
Benefits are offered – There’s a GI Bill.
Get an education if I learn to kill.

Nighttime is the worst – filled with strange sensation.
Think we need a GI Bill to educate this nation.
Some think I am nuts – others call me lazy.
But they’d have to pay for it – so they won’t call me crazy.

Up against the wall – Government partitions
One parade in 15 years – Quite an exhibition.
Bureaucrats on Floats; Politicians wave
I can feel their eyes on me – those I couldn’t save.

Part 2

Up against the wall women crouch and duck.
Frozen in despair, acting like they’re stuck.
Helicopter blades cutting through the air
Load the live ones in – Get them out of there.

Lead them to the choppers 3 for every seat.
Tell them it’s ok – the enemy is beat.
Try to gain a smile with candy or a treat.
Try to gain a foothold, try to calm them down.
Try to get them through the smoke and bodies on the ground.

Choppers slice the air. Green tarmac is slick.
Arms are full of kids, everyone is sick.
Load them in the pit; fire off a round.
Pray it’s not to full, or it won’t leave the ground.

I am in sky – chopper in the air.
I want to go back. I can’t leave them there.
Got to bring them back – they can’t die alone
Got to bring them back – got to get them home.

Old man at the wall – staring into space.
Charlie’s gun is cocked – pointing in his face.
He’s just an old man – witness to disgrace.
Tell us what you know – or we kill you all.
You will be the one – you will cause the fall.

Mothers beg for mercy – offer what they can.
I am not the Baby killer I am just a man.
Sent to do a job, sent here with my brothers.
But they lump me in just like all the others.

When I watch TV, I think that it’s great.
30 Second Spots – I have seen of late.
Military men get off from the plane.
I watch this simulation – and it is explained.
That these men are heroes. They have served a cause.
One person starts to clap then you hear applause
As they walk the line, they amongst their own

Heroes welcomed back – Soldiers welcome home
As they walk the line – people stand and cheer
When I walk that line – people disappear
I still feel their eyes staring with regret
This is how it was when I was a Vet
Wipe it from the cheek; something cold and wet

I am so surprised. Have no words to speak.
Thinking of my Sunday school – Turn The Other Cheek.

Part 3

Up against the wall one lone pregnant frame.
“Lady come with us.” Everything’s in flames.
We have to get out before it starts again
She looks up at me – “GI what’s your name?”

“Lady come with me – you are in harm’s way.”
I don’t give a name – I’m not one to say
I call my friend Jack – “CJ she can’t stay
Get her out of here – Baby’s on the way”

CJ takes her hand – “T-Bone we are done”
Lady looks at me – just ignores the gun
“When the baby come – nothing be the same
Now I know to call – T-BONE is his name.”

Up and in the sky Dust off chopper spins
CJ’s next to me – Pokes at me and grins
“Lady AT THE WALL WANTS TO BE YOUR WIFE
She says GI Man ‘one who save her life’
If it’s boy or girl, it will be the same
She will call it T-BONE that will be the name.”

CJ looks at me – and we start to smile
We forget The Crouch for a little while
Up against the wall, on the chopper floor
For a little while, we stop thinking war.

Up from off the couch, you look at the snow
When the chopper flew, didn’t want to go
Couldn’t leave my buddies lying on the ground
CJ tell them please!! Turn this thing around

Now I turn to you, You are not alone.
Tell me CJ’s story how you brought him home.
You just shake your head, but I just persist
You got CJ home – he’s not on that list
Of those MIA – of the ones who died
You met CJ’s wife. You said that she cried.

Yes, I guess it’s true, and you turn to me.
When I was in Nam – people called me T.

CJ had a wife – waiting for him see
When the plane touched ground – She looked up at me.
First, she’s hugging CJ – I’M WHEEL NUMBER 3
Then his wife come closer whispers just to me.
“You have brought my CJ – You can call me Lee.
You are now my hero – You have brought him home
CJ talked about you. They called you T – Bone.

Lee just stands there grinning – looking up at me.
Don’t know why I’m crying “You can call me T”
“T please stay for dinner” – I’m a wall of stone.
“Thanks but I’ll get going – guess I should go home.”

When I’m feeling lonely, I look for that space
I think back on CJ’s wife – I look for that face
Smiling then she’s crying sitting in my lap
Guess if it was TV, Lee would start to clap.

Up against the wall, snow will soon be gone
I think of distractions to make your pain move on.
I move closer to you – as you look at me
“I think you are something – Can I call you T?”

Us against the world, I am with you too.
I see through the wall right inside of you.
Just like those applauding – you are not alone.
Let me sit beside you – honey welcome home.