John-Ward Leighton

THE WARS

Canadian Peacekeeper PJ Hoare’s Gun Carriage, Pall Bearers, and Firing Party
Canadian Peacekeeper, PJ Hoare’s Gun Carriage,
Pall Bearers, and Firing Party
met an old friend from the Yale
hardly looking healthy and hale.
we had a chat
we hadn’t seen each other
since 94
and the man is still crazier than a
shit house rat.

he played base and was good
like a lot of others who played
in the hood
all for a beer and some cheer
at the Saturday and Sunday jams
and like all the others in those mini dramas
ended up on the film in my cameras
I’ll have to dig the negatives out.

he was a Vietnam vet
1st Air Cavalry
for two tours in 67-68
in the central highlands
in all those viscous firefights
east of DaNang
a time that has shaped his life
and how he has never seemed
regain his mental balance
and get his feet under him.

he got on my case
about taking the lord’s name in vain
I didn’t apologize much to his surprise.
he was skinny, and I mean concentration camp skinny
dying for a cigarette
I thought to myself
how awful can it get.

as usual with him
he talked about the war
and how he missed the adrenaline rush
of combat
he sneered
when I mentioned PTS syndrome
which would put the lie to what he had done
and yet if I wasn’t wrong
he surely was one.

my Dad had his moments
of fear and regret
and his final dreams
were about being left outside
the casualty station to die in WW1
and in his final moments
he feared the closing of a door
and then he was gone and was no more.

old vets at the Legion
reliving the moments of their lost youth
retelling combats terrible truth
how lucky I have been
for all those brutal scenes
I’ve never seen
with friends that check out now
but
not before their time
and can only imagine the horrors
of all the subsequent
sorrow and
horrible waste
of
the wars.