Gary Jacobson

173rd Airborne fording river at Ben Cat, Vietnam Photograph: Combat Photographer, Henri Huet


In the deep dank dark of jungle forest
Remains the innocence I lost
With which I was once blessed
Vanished in Nam’s fetid heat possessed
Lost in the belly of the beast tempest tossed
Lost naïveté
Torn asunder from youth’s brevity
Without redoubt
Awakened now in primal shout.

Memories awaken now you see
Floundering in war’s grim depravity
From places hidden with deepest woe
Where we were told so long ago
“No one wants to know
No one cares about it
Wants to hear about it
So just get over it…”

To sympathize with us no one would
For dreams planted deeply in jungled wood
Were but buried seeds hiding a horror
Bottled-up forever
Forever masking our lost boyhood
All too well understood
Wondering still what it was all about
Vacant voices rising in my primal shout.

I struggle in primal shout
Solemnize, eulogize
To bring the craven message out
Exposing demons to recognize
Warriors brave deeds memorialize
Memories coming into words reborn
Though the child in me’s shorn
Trying at last again to believe
To share war’s missive
So no more boys will be
Shorn of God’s grace in war, like me…

I rejoice at reflections in my too human eye
Feeling still afresh from combat sigh
Still lost am I
Still trying to cope am I
Comforted beside brothers in arms
Who felt the weight of a world of harms
Nourished by sisters, always faithful
For whom I’m grateful…
Who solace give the primal shout
Still disillusioned by authorities cop-out!

Come now words to spirit inspiring
Revered dignity honoring
Bearing message sublime
Singing songs in pensive rhyme
To now join with mine
Echoing the primal shout…
Devoid of all senses disorderly rout.

Our forsworn duty lies in proclaiming
War’s stories telling, and retelling
Shouted from the rooftops
Through teardrops falling like raindrops
Commemorating battle’s to the soul disturbing
Gently reminding
Solemnly remembering
Of what was done to a nation’s men
Marching arm-in-arm to Vietnam.

Heal the primal shout come haunting
Forever mocking, scoffing, taunting
Screaming of bright futures lost
In evil’s primeval tossed
In war fallen our nation’s brightest
And bravest
Fallen way back when
When reigned man’s inhumanity to men…

Tell our story with deeply abounding regret
Smartly salute
Brave heroes we’ll never forget
Men of honor’s good repute
Abandoned voices yet heard in primal shout
Their deeds of valor forever tout
Forget not
Missing souls in fervent praying
Remember them
In writing embodying the longing
Long silent truth ever seeking
Earned in a far and away world
Long lost glory unfurled…

Men who saw in duty no other choice
Now nourished in peace by love’s sweet voice
Honored soldiers gone to finally rejoice
Now in trumpeted glory won
Feel the warmth of heaven’s Son
Sustenance of the Most Holy, Eternal One
He who will soothe the primal shout
Allay all fears that foster doubt…

God’s children live on at last
Who walked the valley of the shadow cast
Into that blessed peace have passed
To in greater light bask
Reveling under the word
Nurtured by a most righteous sword
Long gone that war absurd
Past primeval wars and rumors of wars
The Father of all abhors
Who quiets primal screams
Bless’d peace of the ages brings.