Gary Jacobson


From the last helicopter rising from Saigon’s embassy
Look down into upturned eyes that’ll haunt in infamy
Say last farewell to Nam, by golden sunrise kissed
Fading fast in sweetly dawning mist
See haunted eyes ridden with great guilt
See terrified eyes with trusting years of loving built.

Look down. See the Republic of Vietnam below you dying
Abandoned women, children, Vietnamese crying
Wipe away tears welling in tough warrior eyes
Anguishing events unfolding below in bitter surprise
Observing the age of unreason
That catastrophic season.

Goodbye to Vietnam’s final day in fading glory
Passing long in memory I’ll remember your story
Sweet and sour caustic smoke belching
Reams of document remnant’s incinerating.
Nam, I’ve felt your slings and poisoned arrow
Witnessed fading freedom rising, falling as a sparrow.

IWVPA Double Tap Award for War Poetry: October 5, 2005
Awarded: October 5, 2005
Now, NVA forever silenced freedom’s bell
Their colored tracers blazing frenetic farewell
The last shot fired from darkening jungled hell.
From my retreating helicopter they light a forlorn sky
Looking down on the dispossessed I cry
Fading fast, I can still hear humanity sigh.

I mourn yet today, for that faraway place called Vietnam
Sweet-and-sour perfumed cities, rotting jungle charm
Soil nourished by American blood by virulent war rent
Over ten years of youth’s treasure there spent
What forever pain and sorrow borne there
In bloodstained decades roiling hatred’s ensued there.

O give a last hurrah to fading Vietnam
From the last helicopter to arise from dying Nam
Hovering for one last glance, as if loathe to admit defeat
Languishing in confused anger, then beating a hasty retreat
Hearts in throats, lasting tears in eyes bore
Forsaken the country so many lived and died for.

Hold fast the memory of lost souls within
The greatest brothers who’ve ever been
Unashamedly have you loved them
In war’s madness, offered your life for them.
Grasp one fleeting second to embrace those left behind
From insane hated war, remember eyes so kind.

Now Jack-boots starkly pound the square
Where we once walked the walk, way o’er there.
Freedom’s now long lost… or forgot
Vietnam’s leaders eschewing Democracy we begot
Shaped by hammering in suffering, we tooth and nail fought.
What O what, have we so tearfully wrought?