Gary Jacobson

FIRST NIGHT WILLIES

Gary Jacobson: First Night WilliesMy first combat night
Out under a killing bamboo moon
My cup runneth over with fright
Filling me with impending prospects of doom
Breathless in a perilous situation
Paranoid under roiling clouds of gloom
The 1st Air Cavalry on combat operation
Eagle flighted to verdant Le Hong Fong Forest
To find Vietcong abomination
This combat infantryman’s acid test
To find Charlie a tad mad
In heart of black forest bitterest
Shaking bad
In an alien village two thousand men strong
Sure any minute we’d be overrun
Though they di-di-mau’d when we came along
We dug our foxholes in that village of the gun
With sheer bald-faced temerity
Taunting men preoccupied with my dying
Disregarding my sanctity of life surely
Threats to life and limb ignoring
Feeling potent infusion of first night willies
Introduced to enemies in fragranced air dueling
That night questioning my worthless abilities
Alone amid legions of warrior brothers jousting
Bivouacked midst a hostile village with immunity
Angry marauders in the night howling
Just carrots on a stick to tempt an enemy
Shooting up the air our defenses probing
To draw VC out to fight this naïve absurdity
These foolish Americans senseless assembly
Are we this day meant to die horribly in infamy?
Will they kill this foolishly brave Newby…?
But boys become men mid war’s inane banalities
Mounted by cankered legions in war’s cacophony
Cringing at war’s utterly vacuous barbarities
Midst embattled squadron’s this forlorn twink
Fearing most the crazies
Forevermore changing this primordial link
Nevermore to be the same as once we were
Through nightmare and sacrifice thrust
Hardened in this life austere
Just going on because we must
Desperately for my sorry life praying
Praying to see coming dawn
Thinking of nothing more than surviving
Washington’s armed-and-dangerous pawn
Just a clueless FNG
Knowing life or death in this night’s bartered
Straining in the duskiness to see what I cannot see
Changed forever this insignificant life altered
Alone mid legions cloistered in Nam’s dark
Ghosts swirling round me angered…
Deep in the dark dank tropical heart park
Came a twinks “first night” initiation…
When trying hard to keep a straight face
Battle veterans told rookies of a VC provocation
And as if by cue from all over the place
Came shrieking shrill cries of Nam’s FU lizard
The sounds cursing with unmitigated disgrace
Scaring hair-trigger newbies down to the gizzard
Wily veterans said FU reptiles were enemy recon
Prowling the night cursing
To trigger a response to fix our location
I didn’t sleep a wink that night, waiting for Charlie
I saw, then heard behind every rock, behind every tree
Charlie in every blade of grass moving
Charlie in every twig falling
Charlie in every leaf blowing
The fevered pit of my very soul beleaguered
Icy fear run through veins like a dart
Bewitched, bothered, bewildered
Sweating out war’s devilish black art
Watching… listening, from foxhole concealed
On a night black as a coal rat’s heart.

Good Morning Vietnam!