Colin F. Jones

A GRAIN IN A SAND STORM

~ 1 ~

It is quiet; never silent wind mummers through the bough
Deafened by my heartbeats; sweat dripping from my brow,
It stings my eyes and makes it hard for a soldier to see,
But to move my head, or hand or foot might draw death to me.
Trees seem to move I close one eye they freeze, everywhere,
As we begin to move like shadows with the utmost care.
Another bound more trees more fear as the bird sounds cease,
A minute flies before the wind, then explosions kill the peace
Wham, wham, wham! The rockets fly! I hit the ground and turn,
Towards the shapes emerging from the shrubs and frantic fern.
Already I am firing yelling Contact front! and then,
The air is filled with dreadful noise and the screaming of the men
As we retreat with covering fire to where we can hold our ground,
And soon enough we pause in shock; our ears can’t hear a sound.

~ 2 ~

The flash of fire everywhere sounds emerging from the haze,
The crack of rounds overhead, we awaken quickly from our daze.
Hold your fire! hold your fire! I stop shooting and reload,
The enemy is firing still, and I hear a mortar bomb explode.
We knew it was a bunkered camp or they would have retreated up the track
Hoping we would follow them, and then mount their main attack.
The skip was on the radio, soon the arty rounds screamed in;
The first adjusting shells were close and made a lot of din.
Tree limbs shattered everywhere. and leaves came tumbling down:
But they were smack on target, hey! And made ‘ol Charlie frown,
They blew their bunkers all to hell and forced ‘em underground,
Where they huddled fearfully with their dead trying not to make a sound
When the arty ceased to fire it’s guns the mopping up began,
As we eagerly advanced once more until the complex we overran.

~ 3 ~

Then the mortar bombs were falling we had entered their trap,
And rockets without warning were blowing us off the map.
At the edges of the camp they were rising from the ground,
As, Uk-da-loi they shouted my heart began to pound.
It was bedlam as we met them stitching button holes in their shirts,
Flames and smoke and angry lead flashing out at us in spurts.
There were shattered arms and faces and bodies bloody red,
Broken legs and eye balls hanging out of shattered heads!
And we who were not willing to die on that foul day,
Wondered after it had happened how we had gotten away.
But the man who fought beside me a buddy and a friend,
Was no longer there beside me though I did not comprehend,
Until you sent me the letter asking how your dear son died,
And I broke down for a moment and bitter tears I cried.

~ 4 ~

I did not think it was his helmet; but how can one be sure,
I had not seen the effect of rockets as close as that before,
I knew he was there with me when they first came screaming in,
So I guess there was a chance that it could easily have been him.
All I know is that I’ll miss him despite the knowledge that such fate,
Is apt to get us all be it sooner or be late,
But killing is just killing, a soldier knows one day he will go,
And there is no better way, than facing a skilled and noble foe.
It is only his body we retrieve and bring back home,
An empty shell; a body bag made of skin and bone…
I know he’s not inside it; I know that he has gone,
But ma’am all I can say to you is what is done is done.
I’ll always share your pain knowing he was your only son,
Killed in a war that in the end nobody even won.

~ 5 ~

It all seems so senseless there’s no point to it all,
Hunting through the jungle counting numbers as they fall.
What difference are we making; for what purpose are we here,
Swatting flies and mosquitoes that never disappear.
Why are we killing people, why are people killing us,
I just don’t understand it; it’s just what a soldier does.
I know when it’s all over, peace for a little while will reign,
But then some politician will make sure it all starts up again.
Who am I to question what is wrong and what is right,
I do not have a choice for it is my duty just to fight.
I don’t know why it’s my duty but that is what I’m told,
And I guess to die in battle is better than getting old.
So ma’am I guess I’ll end now we go out again today,
But be assured for your son’s death the enemy will pay

Author’s Note: A moment in time when men from opposing armies met in battle. Men who had never met; had no hatred for one another, yet carried out their orders because they were soldiers, duty bound to do exactly that. I think it was Fay [Sizemore] who said there would be more of this series… well the truth is I had written more verses but chose not to post them. I felt a little out of my depth and was struggling with this. I guess I’m getting old.