Colin F. Jones

LETTERS – 1969, VIETNAM

I can tell by your sweet letters
That your love for me is gone
Yet the truthless words still matter,
For my hopes to cling upon.

You reject me for another,
Who is near you and at home
Who can give you love and comfort
That you are not alone.

It is not a real comfort
In the horror of this place
But the perfume in your letters
Remind me of your face

At night I lay in darkness
In my dank and putrid pit
The monsoon rain and tempest
Slashing coldly through the slit

The worms from sodden sandbags
And seeping through the walls
The slimy stenching water
Upon my sodden blanket falls

Later through the mire
The clinging jungle sludge
I hear the distant fire
As I give my mate a nudge

Together we go creeping
Like hulking beasts of night
To the strong point, sogged and seeping,
Not a satisfying sight.

We crouch together peering
Through the narrow little gap
Ears strained against the searing
Of the monsoons violent rap

Inside my heart is breaking
And a tear in my eye
Does nothing for the shaking
Nor the thought that I might die

My eyes drip with water
From the slashing tearing rain
That hides the tears of slaughter
That are running from my brain

My fearful heart is heavy
For there seems no purpose now
As I watch the reeling levy
From the torrent take a bow.

Later when the popping
Of a dozen different flares
Light the sky with sopping
Parachuted little glares

I am running through the slushing
With my rifle in my hands
In a frantic practiced rushing
To a place where life demands

Even then, when shouting orders
With the breaches slamming shut
I do but what they taught us
For my brain and heart are cut.

But when the dreadful rockets
Match us round for round
As they shriek above in brackets
Of terrifying sound

My anger quells the aching
And fills my empty heart
The violence of my shaking
Speeding fingers to the part,

That ignites the cartridge casing
And lets the missile go
That the rockets soon are ceasing
From a fast retreating foe

The din is ear bursting
With the sludge and mire a’ flow
The leaping guns yet thirsting
To have another go

But the battle is all over
Now the night is growing black
The ‘nogs’ have broken cover
And won’t this night be back

The cartridge cases glower
And fizzle in the rain
As I gently stoop to lower
Myself to bed again…

I lie here in the darkness
Hear the heavy monsoon weep
I love you… Oh I love you,
And finally I sleep.