All of my father’s contingent died in Vietnam.

All of them. He, the black-haired dreamer, early 1960s

Norton-bike-riding sweetheart. They conscripted the

boy who loved a girl for each day and Elvis, his sun deity,

by night.

During the six years of service, he claimed they (only?) taught

him how to cook and wade through labyrinths of tiger

snakes that slept by sides of riverbanks; makeshift war zones

in outer sleeping suburbia.

Then there was the brotherhood squeeze, blokey fast-cast

talkers and punters gambling their last buttons in early-morn

two-up joints. Grease-smeared bumpers and KB beer– hot, holy

sacraments for the lot in waiting. ‘Come in spinner!’

Come, indeed.

Leave your heart inside your wallet at the door, hear the

rotors warming for foreign shores whispering, not calling.

Satchels filled with bayonets and b.y.o death certificates,

too many, these broken national Eucharists.


He missed the draw –


while brass whistles of death dredged men

from melamine kitchens and bright Bandstand weekends.

Sirens blew furious over the firma.

They called them ‘dogs,’ the brave who ran;

and firing squads, like disturbed hornets nests,

followed flashing blank badges scavenged from the slums.

Rotors spun into the coloured-television years; asylums like

mushrooms imploded.

They turned heads beyond the past, bypassed the last

lost, legless – prisoner.

Dad soldiered, silent on his daily plight of two jobs, sometimes

three. Jumping trains and flipping the coins, still, on the day

they rise at dawn. Nobody talked, no crisis counselling or trauma

groups for those who had to sleep perforated...


They gave Dad a – plaque.

And long missed laughs on peaceful grass and obliterated

fathers, all compressed into a woody relic. It belies belief.



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Hello Michelle, it's hard to comment on this 
very personal poem, I will say my heart felt alot
for the main character and the fate before him and
if this was your father than this is a terrific poem 
which describes the agonies of war, so well written
you've done him proud. I would put this forward
as poetry worthy of a contest win, I will  
wish it so and say good luck, 

Best wishes

Oh golly....


yes, this is/was my Dad's experience.. he was not a draft dodger but

gee if he decided to be then great! But yea, he lived with all of his friends

dying in Vietnam. He never spoke about it. Never.


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