Gary Jacobson

THE LAST FIREBASE

My troubled warrior’s heart does race
At the black granite wall of the last firebase
With silently primal hue and shout
With enfeebled voice, I reach out…
Connecting with heroes who’ve fallen all
58,000 names carved on a black granite wall;
American heroes who now watch eternal vigils
Patriot angels… these fallen eagles…

Hell yes, I deeply care…
For that’s my brother, over there…

I too was torn from that jungle hell-hole
This black polished wall reflects images of my soul
Beside American heroes here at the last firebase
It’s myself I face…
Remembering times when I lost the boy
Xin loi…
Refreshing faded memories I will never forget
Joining here with brothers I can never forget

Tears streak my eye
As I remember Vietnam where I too almost die…
Suffering broken bones and open veins in anguished rage
My spirit in bitter violence on war’s daunting page
Held captive by fear and death and guilt lo many a year
Emotive memories shared at this wall’s sacred bier
Learn the lessons of horrible tragedy of traumatic war
Establish healing closure that peace will restore.

Here at the wall greet 58,000 brother warriors
Mankind’s saviors
Who paid the ultimate sacrifice
Who in the midst of battle’s rage rolled fateful dice
Who humped the park over Nam’s knife blade bridge
Twixt life “n” death on a razor’s cutting edge
Able killing brother Cain in days of the carbine
Reminisce of times in hell when we walked the line…

Now at this wall I unashamedly cry
Arm-in-arm with brothers, I still ask why?
It’s not my name carved on that wall
Beside that righteous army still standing tall…
Beside 58,000 fathers, brothers, sisters, son
Still lost in the land of the gun…
Here I covenant to crown their good
With brotherhood…

Hell yes, I deeply care…
For that’s my brother, over there…

Honor dear comrades whose spirits the wall entomb
Whose mortal husk war’s flames did consume
Cry with buddies who died in that damned war
To assuage oppression’s injustice bore
Relive memories where we all wagered life
With blood-brothers who lost theirs in hellfire’s strife
By the fates their example on our heart’s still burning
Forever for the light of right still yearning…

Look deep into that polished wall, for it holds martyrs
Carpenters, welders, bakers, warriors…
Shut out the memory of death’s final screams
Embrace their final resting place of hell-borne dreams
Give honor in homage truly
To soldiers of the wall who did precisely
What their country asked them to do exactly
Who now wear a purple heart courage badge proudly.

Remember the price we all did pay
On that gruesome hot hell of a day
Fighting leaches, two step adders and the Cong
In a place where somehow… I still belong.
But it’s not over yet
Though in this soldier’s heart wells a deep sense of debt
Many went away for a long time, trying to forget
Lost in the world haunted by memorial regret…

But now, here at this hallowed wall, I’m back
Though memory of days of violence my nights wrack…
Commune with brother’s spirits here blowin’ in the wind
Feel the weight of them on your shoulders, friend
March again with men of the last patrol
With men of the last firebase on rock-and-roll…
I’ll never go away again… I’m back
Welcome home brothers! It’s good to be back…

Will the circle be unbroken
Will these 58,000 brothers the spirit awaken
For together again, we are they… and they are we…
Touch brothers here, under an ethereal sky
Circle beside them, red, white, black, yellow, brown
Wearing the victor’s crown
As I stand here… I’m not alone…
Oh no, I’ve come home!

Hell yes, I deeply care…
For that’s my brother, over there…

This poem inspired, “It’s a Beautiful Day” ©Copyright April 2008 by Fred Alvis