A social site for poets in Sydney.
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,
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!’
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
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.
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.