Rosemary Purse-Robinson


nineteen sixty-nine
Singapore domiciled

Anti-war Mum, b-flat-bass Dad, in the band
a musician battle-fit for manoeuvres

while the band played on

jungle manoeuvres over
back to barracks
shower, anoint jungle sores
and cigarette burns [dealt to leeches]

and the band played on

taxi to Change Alley before shopping for stereo
and to suss out the cars – exotic knock-shops next
[if with wife: Hotel Malaysia or Tanglin Club]
last stop Bugis Street before back to barracks

no moral dilemma as adrenalin surged in those
chosen for the next stint in old ‘Nam

and the band played on

until mates dead or worse, and cooked
those Corporal taught you to call ‘Gooks’

visions of war never live
to hidden potential

entrails, defoliate, napalm and gore
private Kiwis in a public war

and the band played on

fit or fallen we welcomed none home hero
through thirty years many fall cancerous
gaze upon the struggle and courage of

those they gladly declare hero

their cruelly malformed offspring
if the foetus did carry to term

any unknowing left long ago

dermatitis disillusion dilemmas
like the “GOOKS”
all are Vietnamese now.