Colin F. Jones


Ether! The cordite of the writhing ward,
Deflames the savage substance of his pain,
He drifts away still wielding stubborn sword,
Finding in his peace a tranquil fame.
The smoke clears; horrid shapes deformed,
Surround the crater from where the lava wells,
Broken bodies with bits of steel adorned,
And constant ringing of those morbid bells.
Light comes as mist across a battlefield,
Seen through the strong point’s slit, safe and sound,
Still bodies rot in gnarled and shattered field,
Consciousness envelops him profound.
AAAAH!! Oh, God! Oh! God Oh! Bloody God!!!
Then blackness steels his pain, as blackness should.

‘Tis almost tranquil the margin through the pane,
A sunbeam filters a finger of probing light,
Knifing through the dimness with disdain,
Exposing all life’s particles in flight.
Silence! The shock of silence clouds his head,
The ward cordite returns in ebbs and flows,
Sometimes he is alive; sometimes he’s dead,
But shapes return, as bodies lain in rows.
A dull deep ache, as would the tide roll in,
Creeps from lower limbs towards his brow,
“God help me, help me, over death to win”,
And over time the torment fades somehow.
He made it home, I know for I am him,
Sent back to war to live it all again.

Author’s Note: Dedicated to the American nurses in South Vietnam, who walked through our pain with us, as we lay in their care in Vung Tau, 1969. Submitted for the January 2002 IWVPA Club Theme Project, “The Walk