“Peace With Honor”
- Cam Ranh Bay Christmas 1971

 

There are no holy men in country now

Only horny GI’s sincerely trying

Not to think about the war

Cracking lewd jokes designed

To move their minds to another place

Somewhere there is certainty

there is earnest memory

Of love and hope and home

In khaki pants with a beer in their hand

Beating time to poorly played rock and roll.

 

There are no wise men in country now

Only wounded egos who didn’t

Quite believe it could be like this.

Who did not listen to their brothers

Who told them the war was a fake

Both empty and full up with fighting

For a country that does not believe

In winning this ‘military conflict’

But will send them through the mill

Regardless, grist for the political machine.

 

There are no philosophers in country now

Only jokesters who, on a quiet evening

Throw hands full of pebbles on the

Corrugated tin roofs of silent barracks

And shout “Incoming, incoming”

Then laugh as half-dressed and sleepy

Men run out in droves and lay down

In the red dirt of Cam Ranh

And don’t understand why this is funny

And not sad and not relief at all.

 

There are no old men in country now

Only silent children with tired eyes

Who just want to get home

In one piece mind and body both

Inured to clean-up crews

Shoveling pieces of Viet Cong

Arms and feet and hands into dump trucks

Remnants of last night’s raid

On the bridge to the village

Across the blue-green bay.

 

Late at night the fishermen come out from the village

Each sampan with a single lantern forming

A floating city across the glass-like water

They fling their nets wide and out

Until they see the parachute flares

And hear the 90 mm artillery guns

Arc shells over them for practice

The city on the sea winks out

They head for home shore again

And plot to win the final battle.