Gary Jacobson

HE LIES BACK THERE

Now out of sight to all but God
Lies that man I killed ‘neath bloody sod
Beleaguered now where war’s horrors lay hidden
But he comes haunting with unholy stare bidden
Roaming nightly,
This visage unsightly
His moaning ghost on me obsessing
Dredging up fitful remembering of times depressing
Gouging long-hidden memories till light morning’s behest
He returns back to eternal somber rest.

My fated enemy lies back there
Without worldly care
Where a young boy killed in wanton times of despair
His spirit a nightly visitor, the dusky man I killed
Crumbling in gratuitously cruel dust in combat drilled
Forever haunting my darkness
Laid captive to rot in graves spoiled bleakness
Captured forever in my heart’s somber blackness
Moldering where he fell. Still! Dead!
His cankered body the worms fed.

I see him marching from darkened night
Restlessly on shadowed dreams filled with fright,
I see him whenever the lights go low, it seems
Wilding with cankered worms when memory careens
Beckoning to march solemn formation with them
Passing in nightly review beside him,
To march with this army of the dead
Before whose scourge all sanity fled
Ghostly visitors from whom all life’s bled…
I still see bullet holes leaking red.

He lies so still under vaulted blue sky
Nurturing green fields of Nam where he did die
His Vietcong essence fertilizing rice-paddy mud
Given his all to gun and blood
Heedless to loved one’s mourning cry
Decaying verdant jungles where he does now lie
Haunting with supernatural visit obsessed. Why?
I wonder where this melancholy man will go…
Will heaven or hell his deeds toll?
Will anyone remember his bounty to bestow?

Feral weeds adorn the rotted, worm-bound tomb
Planted in fields where ravages of war once did loom
Dust covers his forlorn grave
Where I, sent forth the world to save
Tore him from his family mid war’s insanity,
Tore from him his soul, in mankind’s inanity
Killed him why? So peace might bloom…
Planted his humanity in bricky cold doom
Laid him low in times of frail life’s care
When weary young minds the fabric of life tear.

His ghost in morning light to grave returns
Till another night his haunting adjourns
Where death’s demise tethered him
Eternally singing the reaper’s solemn hymn
Returning always to where he lies
Visage gazing into starry skies
countenanced in final rest of death
Below where he tasted final earthborn breath…
His skin’s leathery tautness
Dried on brittle bones as ancient papyrus.

This man of unholy war
Torn violently in cruel days of yore
Torn from those whom adore
Ripped rapaciously
Violently
Capriciously
Malevolently from heart and home
Now rusted the color of ashes and bone
Thrown kneeling before the devil’s throne
Before God mortal sins to atone

Remember squeezing killing trigger on human infidelity
Boyish laughter lost in a finite moment of humanity
Teetering war’s absurdity on the balance of human integrity?
Remember when you shoveled dirt to him embrace
To cover a grotesquely pain-shaped face
So you couldn’t see killing’s work so vilely base
The reward of death’s ignominious disgrace
Dust filling the gape of his pursed mouth
Stilling forever the silent sound of carefree youth
Stilled forever, still wildly uncouth.

Can you see the animal rising in you?
Can you see it, struggling to get through?
Flying on gossamer wings
Remembering darkening times where the very air sings
Arm-in-arm with foes to justify
Harms committed satisfy
Past ghosts, dancing again with Vietcong hosts
Who at end of day relents, to war’s carnivore submits.
Who no matter how long in life he lives…
Never really lives