Gary Jacobson


Sweating in a foxhole on All Hallows Eve
I harbor sights civilians cannot conceive
Forsaking all judgment’s reason
Battling in war’s unholy season
I’m a ghostbuster with eyes opened wide
Abiding in the land where disconcerting spirit’s reside
These monsters out in the killing field are real.
These morbid demons will your very heart steal.

Suddenly comes prickling strange trepidation’s sensation
Creeping feelings cringing with immoral abomination.
Riding iron horses to verdant booneys wild
Mid hovering death-borne spirits neither meek nor mild
Vietcong vampires haunt very air I breathe
Madnesses with supernatural smoldering seethe
Bogey goblins come to haunt my warrior soul
Mischievous Halloween apparitions to sanity cajole.

Ghosts of the undead roam battlefield night
Both friend and foe still fighting war’s awful plight
Apprehension’s demons will rip out a fledgling heart
Smiling as they feed on a young newbie upstart
Boiling his soul in a stew of consuming hatred
Unleashing a permeated specter dripping red
Peering from dark of jungle with evil-eye possession
Devil’s haunting with unholy Black Mass obsession.

Cold wailing wind blows hot up my back
Spreading foul unease to my body rack
I spy a macabre mummy looming large
Through breath of fevered wind doth charge
This devil out hunting with zombies deadened souls
Dancing with satanic ghosts and ghouls.”
Taking body-counts with dreadful tolls…
But turns out it’s only Sarge, grinning grotesquely large.

Wrapped tight in poncho liner against the cold night
Sarge reminds me, “Brave soldiers know no fright,
Long as they dodge the werewolf’s bite
Though dark red in bloodcurdling sky tis seen
Where demented witches on switches careen…
Haunting, cavorting, in diabolic jungle green
Walking like skeletons by eye unseen
To take yawl where yawl’s never been.”

“Hell, hold back y’alls demented youth adrenalin
Y’all don’t need to go fear’n no kind of goblin
Not when y’all have the Vietcong
Really a good-time Charlie that’ll do ya’ no wrong
‘Specially when dead leaves fly across a moonlit sky
When all joy in your world might this night die
Out here where crackling twigs make an eerie sound
Like spooks scampering over unholy ground.”

Suddenly alone, I breath in night air thick with despair
Looking out on trees Agent Orange stripped bare
Jungle branches in fevered morning dew waving
In moonlight hulking! Stalking! Haunting! Skulking!
Demon trees hovering with skeleton arms
Beware pallored night creeping with tormenting charms
Ghastly inhabitants of pandemoniums spell
These bewitching hour denizens of hell.

It’s too quiet! The quiet ache grows weary in my bones
Old Scratch congealing bloodstones
Stiffening rigidly in my veins molded in a foxhole
Listening to the terrified beating of my soul
Listening to banshee sounds out in the jungle droll
Night horror’s cacophony taking devastating toll:
Huddled in a fighting hole beside the brotherhood
Peering out at the wailing wood.

This night, is the howling night, of a thousand dreads
Conjuring beacoup malefactors that my soul embeds
The Nams many trembling fears to horror weds
In a jungle teeming with mourning spirits bemoans
I try to ignore deep dark forest groans
Seeking comfort my beleaguered soul to console
I’m out here with a job to do, so don’t lose control
Steeling yourself to tough out whatever may be
Determined in the sacrifice to set people free.

Larry Burrows ~ Khe Sahn 1968
Photo: Larry Burrows ~ Khe Sahn 1968