Gary Jacobson


One tin soldier
American warrior
Left his valley of milk and honey
Abundant life so rich and sunny
To bring peace unto the world
Spread before him in great vastness unfurled.

He wanted naught but mankind to help
This fresh-born naïve whelp
Still abiding in carefree callow youth
Drawn unknowing into war’s violence uncouth
Innocent to horrors, life and death on the line
Intrinsic values in spiraling decline.

One tin soldier
Marched to be his country’s savior
Taken far, far away
Thrust headlong into battle’s heated fray
Facing men preoccupied with killing, handed a gun
Killing was at first indeed no fun.

Some soon became addicted to the killing
Some could not live without its fever thrilling
Losing the love once held so essential
To being’s essence now grown dysfunctional
Reborn into a hard corps fighting machine
Most efficient warriors the world’s ever seen.

Lost forever was the young boy’s naiveté
He forgot how to pray
Only living to survive
Fighting so he and buddies might stay alive
To make it back to the world
To find again his lost peace like gold.

Now the man-boy at last comes home
Looking for his soul to atone
The war aching in his belly like a stone.
He had lost himself
In war’s treacherous gulf
His ideals long abandoned on a shelf.

He was to others, himself included, adversarial
Hostile with only one thing in mind antisocial
Humanity a bartered credential
Lost was the boy in shadowy forest lair
Hot home of the Vietcong who dare
Dare these but callow youth to venture there.

Still he sees enemies smirking
Their eyes red coals burning
There waiting to kill in every crowd
Wartime adrenaline talking overly proud, too loud
Finding it hard again to trust
Trust lost in mud, blood and dust.

Beaucoup violence now become a learned way of life
Dinky dau antagonisms gained in the warrior’s strife
Drinking too hard to quell nagging memories
Giving no peace to these wounded in spirit ambulatories
Visited at night by flash-back-stories
Rife with anxious anxieties cruel war’s depositories.

He’s afraid to make friends, because they too will die
He’s lost the connection he once had on high
Now visited nightly by brothers who died
Painfully, bloodily, swept up in war’s tide
Seeing one-by-one grinning faces grown grotesque
Statuesque men he killed in macabre war burlesque
Oceans of tears belie a war once thought humoresque
Bound forever to remember his walk in the park picturesque.