Ross Nepia Himona


Bronze Helmet Top Poet Award of Excellence: August 2001
Awarded: August 2001
That’s a sweet, sweet bugle I said,
and a real bugler too he was,
not some cheating cornet player –
a soft lingering farewell from the soul,
spirit notes soaring into bush clad hills,
and echoing back on hilltop graveyard,
where lies Jack Tai.

The bugle says it all Jack, sweeter by far
than the unspoken words we form –
offering poppies where bamboo leaves
might say it better – struggling to say
the unsayable, for soldiers anyway –
Me and Glunk, George and Davey too –
for our mate Jack Tai.

So the bugle says it all, old friend,
after the rippling crackle of rifles,
of past lives long time gone,
the bugle’s lament lays gently down
a mat of soldiers’ love, sweetly woven
across the top of a hilltop graveyard,
where lies Jack Tai.

I’m a little overwhelmed. Thank you, profusely.

And thank you Jack, for inspiring the eulogy. Jack was indeed one of my lead scouts, as were George and Davey who stood graveside with Me and Glunk, and he was a damned fine scout too. I suppose it’s not surprising that the scouts are still the closest to their old platoon commander (and platoon sergeant) after all these years. I relied totally on their skills and instincts, and they relied totally on my skills and instincts. We did OK between us.

In Conversations Far From Vietnam, Jack, George, Davey, and Bill were the conversationalists. The poem to the platoon sergeant, Scoff Cootes, is Softly I Hear You.

I realised after I’d written the Borneo and Vietnam related poems that they were actually love poems. Not a startling discovery, when you consider that true military leadership begins and ends with your love for your soldiers.

Please convey my thanks to the Board (of Trustees).

Ross Nepia Himona
02 September 2001