Anthony W. Pahl


IWVPA Double Tap Award for War Poetry: June 25, 2005
Awarded: June 25, 2005
The boat of life was just a boat
and held nothing ‘cept two oars;
neither sustenance nor friendship
and no link to friendly shores

For years he drifted insecure
on a salty sea of tears
with deadly calm always at hand
to succour dreadful fears.

Fierce storms raged wild and often;
his life shuddered in their wake.
But the tiny boat kept floating
defying Satan’s prescribed fate.

The lights from lonely houses
beamed from the rocky shore
inviting him to come on home
but storms would blow once more.

The beckoning shore eluded
his searching outstretched grasp;
his screams were as mere whispers
when he heard the foghorn’s blast

In the fog that wrapped its tendrils
around his mind with bands of steel,
he saw the ghostly images of those
whose wounds would never heal

He cried their names out loudly
and screamed for them to turn
but their silent course was set
and his pleas caused no concern

His silent tears fell in silver streams
as he stowed the small boat’s oars.
He looked inside his broken heart
with its broken unhinged doors;

He tore at fatigue and sorrow
with a mind shredded to the core
and realised it was for nothing;
he could not do any more.

With resignation he knew that
he must say a last goodbye
to mates who had died too soon
but whose souls were free to fly.

The dark storm clouds abated
the sea became like glass
the sounds of sea birds singing
ushered out the awful past

He knew that while he had a life
the past would live with him
but he knew if he kept fighting
the past would surely win.

He gazed up into bright blue sky
and saw old friends reflected there.
On the softly whispering breeze he heard,
“Coo-ee old mate… take care.”

He’d trolled the sea of life to find
rhyme and reason for his life.
But only when he drifted free
could he accept that state of strife.

Author’s Note: For my Friend and Brother, Tim Bone, a fellow survivor of the Vietnam War, and ALL Veterans