Colin F. Jones

THE ESSENCE OF MAN

~ 1 ~

IWVPA Double Tap Award for War Poetry: August 22, 2004
Awarded: August 22, 2004
The smell is overwhelming; that call the flies to tea,
And the rotting flesh and bone is horrible to see.
The eye sockets emptied by the iris-eating crow:
just vacant holes of darkness where insect larvae grow.
The heart has long been eaten the liver and the gut,
The kidneys have been ravished now the door to life is shut.
The head a scull now empty of its wondrous brain,
Has been devoured by the carnivores so nothing there remains.
Yet from somewhere in that mass of rot there rises fourth a soul,
Unseen and invisible from where there is no hole,
Indescribably translucent, aloof and ill defined,
The true essence of the body that it leaves to rot behind.
To pass through into somewhere where only spirits go,
To be processed by the Angels in a place we do not know.

~ 2 ~

There are many on the battlefield where silence now prevails,
Except for squabbling vultures fighting over sparse entrails
The rumpled ground and hollows still smoking from the shells,
Hide many bits of bodies on their contoured bloodied shelves.
There was courage here a-plenty and cries of tragic pain,
As Warriors fought for victory but were overwhelmed and slain.
Their parts are strewn all over the grooved and pitted ground,
But the souls that long have left them cannot here be found.
There will never be a body inside a flag draped varnished case,
Returning home in glory to a sacred special place;
There is nothing left of consequence; a bone or tooth or nail,
A notebook or a diary to tell the gruesome tale…
Just the remnants of brave soldiers who responded to the call,
Whose souls are now in heaven where there is no death at all.

~ 3 ~

They were not seeking glory when with a battle cry,
They overcame their fear and went fourth prepared to die,
They fought not, for flag and nation, as the history book foretells,
But for their brothers there beside them and for their gallant selves.
‘Twas not by careless action, nor with a will to die,
That they lost their lives so bravely with terror in their eyes.
Yes they thought of wife and Mother and their children safe at home,
Their fathers and their brothers their sisters left alone.
They thought of all who loved them but at that final time,
They were thinking of their brothers stretched along the battle line.
They were dying there together each for the other man,
Doing everything for their brothers that a combat soldier can.
Some came home without the others with shocked and saddened brains,
That of their former glory nothing now remains

~ 4 ~

Though their hearts are heavy for the loss is very great,
The mothers of these soldiers will still forever wait,
For their sons who fought so bravely and lost their lives in war,
Full of hope and desperate love that time might yet restore,
Their shattered scattered bodies; fragments food for hungry ants,
From the rotted charred remains of old hats and empty pants.
For their spirits are no comfort to those alive on Earth,
That have risen from the battle field to resurrect new birth,
In another place of mystery where the dead can only be,
If the spirits from their bodies are by death at last set free.
They will grieve, and are grieving for their brothers and their friends,
For their daughters, sons and husbands for they can’t comprehend,
That where his parts are scattered there is no soldier there,
That his soul is now a Spirit that goes with them everywhere.

ir Force Paraphernalia retrieved from the site of an ambush during the war in Vietnam
ID: DFST9210029 – Released to Public – Service Depicted: Air Force Paraphernalia retrieved from the site of an ambush during the war in Vietnam is displayed for the media. The articles are evidence of the excavation work being done by Vietnamese authorities as part of a search for American servicemen listed as missing in action (MIA). Location: VIETNAM (VNM) Date Shot: 08 FEB 1991 Camera Operator: MSGT. JOSE LOPEZ