Gary Jacobson

THE LIFETIME YEAR

Screaming Light in Jungle Shadows - Vietnam 1966
Screaming Light in Jungle Shadows
Vietnam 1966
Remember the eternities of a lifetime year
That birthplace of unsettling fear
Changing young boys brave and strong and clean
Though only nineteen…
Sent far from home to fight
For a nation’s sovereign right
Fell into brutish war
That good men say they abhor
Where each step can be your last one
Born again under Vietnam’s sun in the land of the gun.

Remember where was shed the unspeakable tear
Nevermore to forget brothers left there
Left nourishing a verdant jungle, all worldly care
Remembering shadows that go bump in the night
Exploding forever on senses awful fright
Riding hueys through dawning light
Steel war horses breathing fire to inspire
Through sweltering dust of Phan Thiet
Through the agent orange sunset
Wondering what each new day will beget…

Calamitous the omen
Though… it don’t mean nuthin’
Just turn away to the next eve of destruction
Where evil in air around you plays
Three-hundred-sixty-five nights… three-hundred-sixty-five days
Dreaming feats in prophetic night threatening
Foreboding chilling auspices thrilling
Come back always to bloodletting killing
So, think about something else
Weary heart’s racing the beating pulse.

Travel back to alien lands
Again walk with blood-stained hands
Where you lost the boy, but found the man
Humping deep dark jungles of Vietnam
Where you marched with hellish premonition
Bartering innocence with death in unholy arbitration
Through smoke and fire crescendo of mortars
The exploding crack of rifles making men martyrs
Laugh at foreshadowing doom
Death enshrouding the jungle gloom.

Cling desperately for life to brothers
Pray desperately to mothers
Scan every bush, snipers in the tree line, mines in the ground
Struggle to hear every out-of-place sound
Blood flowing in veins like ice
Embroiled in the service of sacrifice
Pray to God… curse God
Straining within and without
To hear the primal shout
Painfully aware of each slightest movement
Trusting life to war’s armament.

Vietnam severely impacts all of life
Rifling the mind with PTSD strife
Still upsetting life values once thought dear
Violence to every night for the rest of life sear
Filling every thought with rivers of sweat
Still humping combat gear filled with fomenting regret
Feel still that combat rage
Too often saving burdensome life to pain assuage
Once again beside brothers angels cannot keep…
Can you tell me why I still can’t get to sleep?

Struggle with everything in you to survive
To arise from this hell-hole to ‘the world’ alive
Ghosts freed from lingering guilt
Cruel war upon its warriors built
Wondering why you too aren’t back there
Beside moldering buddies in a foreign jungle lair
Back there giving rise to malicious discontent
Duffels full of life’s altering moment
Blistering contagion in shadowy portent
Planted without relent to past and present torment.

My heart will always beaucoup memories hide
Yet forever I’ll foreshadowing bide
War’s deadly poisoned bane
The Nam’s horrific pain
Nam’s drumming thunder bringing singing rain
Men trying to kill you again and again
Remember that fated year of the protestor’s jeer
When you got back to America’s hatefully despising leer
Given those forever searching still
Vietcong to kill…