Gary Jacobson


I’m patrolling the valley of the shadow today
Out in the jungle where the Vietcong play
Walking point in the land of the living dead
Out in the killing zone of all hope bled.
And despite all I can say and do
To make it through…
No matter how observant I am
No matter how leather tough I am
No matter how good a shot I am
No matter how prayerful I am
No matter if I lead or follow
I can taste death’s arrow
Blow-by-blow, marching to meet the foe.
Nothing I do will in this war suffice
No matter how religiously free of mortal vice
No matter how innocently naive I do believe…
No matter whether I fight with bravery or cowardice
It all comes down to a roll of the dice.

There’s thousands of good men on that wall
Honorable men who answered their countries call
Brave men who’ve fallen in blackened pall
There are songs to heroes sung
Fathers, brothers, sisters, sons
Eulogies to good that die too young
O, In war there is no justice
No matter if you’re naughty or nice
None of it matters so much as a bowl of rice
It all comes down to a roll of the dice.

Whether we be mortal men or mice
Whether we’ve won medals for very good service,
In war, the specter of death hovers over us all
Every swinging man, no matter how short or tall
There’s a good chance you’ll end up on that wall
In the latest in a series of violent wars brutish
At the hands of depraved hate fiendish
Fighting savagely
Cutting men down in the flower of youth.
Whether you live in this sweet and sour land of spice
Or whether you pay the ultimate price
Your all sacrifice…
It all comes down to a roll of the dice.

From this combat infantryman take a word of advice.
There are men who don’t like you out there…
Men who want your body to draw, quarter and slice
Despising with detestation’s vilest venom.
God can’t help you here in Vietnam
War is no respecter of person
So brother, just pass the ammunition
‘Cause no matter whether death chooses you
Or the man next to you
Good men… and bad men… both die
You wonder why them and not you
Making folks cry…
Without rhyme or reason why
There is no meaning…
There is no reasoning…
Why a brother beside you standing
Should feel those lead fingers of fire and ice
And not you…
Who lives and who dies…
All comes down to a roll of the dice.

O, unmask that vile impostor war
Who in guise of right brings about things we abhor.
Good God in heaven, what is it good for?
Because of war are our people more just?
Are world leaders at long last honoring their office?
Is authority a power enforced without malice,
A practice unaffected by eyes jaundiced
Without hate or envying prejudiced?
Are we without jealousy,
Without petty hostility…?
Have we a time honored tradition
Of showing for less fortunate compassion?
Is brotherly love a worldwide practice?
Are politicians without greedy avarice?
Do we with love for one another rejoice?
Is there finally poetic justice?
Or is it all…
Just a roll of the dice?