View Full Version : VOICES: Author's Preface

July 10th, 2005, 03:30 PM
The following is not a novella or a short story. It is a series of poems with a prologue and an epilogue - "chapters" in between. As such I choose to break each down into a separate post on this thread.

I have never been overly comfortable with sharing my writings. Even though I have been writing since the age of 8.

Though this one means much to me and is very close to my soul. Further explanation when completed.

Thank you. <scared look>

July 10th, 2005, 03:46 PM
Once upon a time, a time not so far distant, a bright and "peaceable" kingdom existed. This kingdom was believed to be one of the strongest and most beautiful of kingdoms in the world.

Knowing this, it is perfectly understandable to see why its citizens were proud of their land and its leaders.

The citizens of this jewel were also innocently arrogant in their belief that the future of their home was full of promise and only good things.

Don't get me wrong, they had known their share of sorrow and violence. They were bloodied as any other kingdom. But they had always won. Had always come out of the fray with honor and victory. They had power. A truly heady elixir.

As such, this kingdom was one of the strongest in a world of kingdoms. They considered themselves leaders in the world of mayhem - a fine example of what hard work, dedication, democracy and freedom could achieve. They were in the midst of a truly golden age. One they likened to that of the mythical Camelot. There was no reason to believe that this state would not continue. There was no reason to believe that other kingdoms would not look up to them and follow in their footsteps.

However, there were other kingdoms in this world that were not as fortunate. One smaller kingdom caught the golden one's eye. This, less fortunate, kingdom had been plagued by war. Rent in half by differing beliefs. A never-ending cycle of destruction.

Aghast, the golden kingdom decided that this smaller one could benefit from its abilities and teachings. Advisors were sent to aid the people in their battles. To teach them new techniques. To guide and then to leave knowing that they had done their duty.

Unfortunately, events did not progress as had been anticipated and the greater kingdom found itself trapped in a quagmire.

They mustered up troops, drafting from their own citizens, and sent them over to fight alongside the faction that their rulers chose to support for the good of all kingdoms. The people of this land, thought this just and right - at first.

But then more of their men came home in boxes and more of their young were sent over to continue the fight.

Questions were asked and calls to pull out were raised. Voices began to speak hotly - both pros and cons for this conflict they had found themselves in. Some of the youth went to fight and others refused. The kingdom was divided and changed. Changed forever.

This is some of the tale.

July 10th, 2005, 03:48 PM
In a spasming fist,
an old man clenches on tightly
to a shiny metalic object.
Tears trail down his wrinkled cheeks.
Like acid.
As if they have carved these grooves for their own use.
His bent frame shudders from
having to live beneath the deepest pain.
A pain that he once prayed
to never know.
He affixes the metal object -
a Bronze Star -
to a bedraggled, brown teddy bear.
It is missing an eye
and its, once red, neck ribbon is frayed.
Some stitching has aged loose
and it is limp.
He places the child's toy -
with its heavy burden -
at the base of a black panel.
"Here son.
These are yours,
and they belong with you."

July 10th, 2005, 03:49 PM
"Hello Sargent.
I know you are retired but -
Hello Sargent.
I know I am rather young but -
Hello Sargent.
I know I will never truly
understand where you were but -
Hello Sargent.
May I cry next to you?
I grieve for them too."

July 10th, 2005, 03:49 PM
A medic in the 'Nam.
He was at the Ashau-
Hill number 938.
He always believed that,
as long as he got those men through
the Huey doors -
They would make it back to
The World.
He had comforted himself with this thought.
His part.
His strength in a world of violence.
Imagine his surprise.
When he first traced those names.
Names he thought to never know.
Their wounds broke back open
and his soul bled.

July 10th, 2005, 03:50 PM
Half-crazed, or so he was told,
by memories from his past.
He stood silent in his old fatigues
and boonie hat.
The VA Psych Ward had given him a pass.
He still speaks to the dead.
These ghosts trapped in black.
For him the sounds, smells and emotions of war
imprint his every breath, every moment of the day
or night.
He still hears the men dying.
Their blood stains his hands.
But here -
Here he is at peace.
With them.
Like them,
He never really came home.

July 10th, 2005, 03:51 PM
A young woman stands ramrod straight in her dress blues.
Her spit-shined pumps are a glossy black surface reflecting.
Like the slab of black granite she has come to worship.
Her insignia marks her -
United States Marine.
One of the Few.....
"Hello Daddy." she whispers the words gently,
while a trembling finger traces the white blasted name
as if it were his face before her.
"Mom says I am just like you.
Tell me Daddy. Are you proud?"

July 10th, 2005, 03:52 PM
Once an Army nurse she teaches High School history now.
Her nails are well kept -
though once the cuticles were stained red.
The blood always left a stain.
In these trembling hands-
Hands that had once struggled
to save one life after another -
She holds a simple Army issue IV bag.
In this bag there is dirt.
Dirt from outside the Evac hospital
where she once battled against death.
With great and reverent care
she places this precious piece of her
next to an Airborne patch and
a worn pair of jungle boots.
She drapes her dog tags over the IV bag
and straightens with pride.
She has finally said
what she has never spoken out loud.
"I was there."

July 10th, 2005, 03:53 PM
He always said that he had never seen anything as beautiful, or as deadly, as napalm strikes at night.
That these strikes would light up the jungle sky for miles around. And like this little Vietnamese he would
pay for at a local Mama San's, the land looked as ugly and barren as the morning after felt. That was when
he would wake up and realize what had been done.

There was never anything more terrifying the the horrible whine of incoming rounds. Or the frantic cries of "Gooks in the perimeter!". The sudden sound of sniper fire on a sunny day humping the boonies. Or the sounds of dying men. Or the silence when life had given in.

Victor Charlie, he honestly believed, was probably one of the most focused and deadly of enemy forces the Americans had ever encountered. There were our worst nightmare gliding through the razored elephant grass like phantoms. Never making
a sound. Unless they were the NFG type with half a canteen. You see, the sound of sloshing water would give them away. Gave you warning and you could mark them and then blow the hell out of them.

And their ingenuity - well - that was something to be grudgingly admired. He guessed. They were the premiere of the guerilla warfare set. Killers of skill. Truly. And he raged against them for every lost American. He was still raging when a sniper's bullet cut his anger short.

July 10th, 2005, 03:54 PM
I thought I would come today, just to talk to you again. Actually, I could not have stopped myself. I found out yesterday
that we are going to be grandparents. Grandparents? Can you believe it?

Our little Becky is going to be a momma. In about seven months. She says, if it's a boy they are going to name him after you. It is so hard to believe that Daddy's little girl is going to have a child herself.

I wish you could have been here to watch Becky and John grow. You would be so proud of them. But John always figured you knew and saw every little thing they did after you were taken from us.

John was just promoted to Staff Sargent. Lord, I pray that he never has to leave us like you did. Watch over him for me if he is called up. I don't know if I could handle losing our boy too. I just keep praying that there will be no more need for war. All the pain of losing you has made me that way I guess.

Sometimes, I still wake up and reach for you in the night. I don't understand why you aren't there.

I wish you were here my love. Remember, my heart is always there in your keeping.


July 10th, 2005, 03:56 PM
Rice paddies -
under a blazing sun.
Jungle sounds -
all around.
Salty - Sweat -
Stinging -
Battle-Fatigued eyes,
Snaking down -
weather stained faces.
Bullets strike bodies
with. Con. Stant.
Stac. At. To. thuds.
Mines tearing -
breathing -
dead men -
limb from limb -

A hot, humid -
summer day.
Watering -
the grass.
There'd been no rain.
Car -
Engine -
Through my mind.
I -
"Kissed the dirt" -

The muddy -
jungle ground.
Curses -
Mechanical roars -
Hang in my ears.
"Slashing Talon!
We got red smoke in the AO."
A Huey -
Explodes in -
Mid - Air

The 'Nam
never leaves you.

July 10th, 2005, 03:57 PM
Knowing the words he has to say,
I close my eyes and turned away.

I could already see the blaze of flame in the night,
Fearful of the fire that could take his life.

He whispered gently, holding me tight,
"Soon I'll be home. Everything will be all right."

He kissed me hard and tiredly sighed,
Placed his cover on his dark head and I begin to cry.

Seeing, mirrored, in his blue eyes our shared pain,
The door closes behind him and tears begin their reign.

I feared the sight of a dress blue clad Marine
Coming with silent military dignity to our door.
You see, I knew what this sight meant.
It had happened to others so many times before.

I lived in fear-darkened shadows.
Our marriage bed a solitary place of memory.
But I knew when I married him.
That I would have to share him.
With the sky. The Corps.
This damned war!

The days like good soldiers marched on.
The only true joys his letters and
the birth of our dark-haired, blue-eyed son.

"I love you. I love our boy. I wish I were there.
I think we are losing this war.....
Good men are dying and no one seems to care."

Long-haired doves would stare at me.
Some mouthed vulgarity.
They hoped you'd pay for your crimes of war.
Our son would begin to cry
and their words hurt but -
but his tears hurt more.

Then the day -
A Marine with shadowed visage came.
My heart choked.
Wracking down lame.
Twisted metal.
Tumbling. Crashing. Churning.
My love burning.
A hole of darkness opened wide -
My ice thickened blood began the dive.

The Marine limps down the walk.
Weary faced.
Worn and thin.
Outstretched arms.
Dark hair.
Blue eyes.
Cover swept aside.

My husband......
My husband came home.

July 10th, 2005, 03:58 PM
Listen boy.
Can you hear?
The running men?
The tearing fear?
Can you see through
the blood haze -
anymore the boys of younger days?
Do ya feel the deadly cold steel
pulsating in your hand -
a danger real?
Do you smell the acrid smoke?
The stench that rises,
envelopes and chokes?
Listen close boy.
Listen to me.
War is crap boy
and freedom ain't free.
This is a blood war kid.
A political time bomb.
Welcome to you new home.
Lovely Viet Nam.

July 10th, 2005, 03:58 PM
"Forget me not! Cried the wounded soldier,
as life poured from the wound in his side.
"I never wanted to come to this place.
I tried to do what was right. I want to live.
I don't want to die."

"Forget me not!" Prayed the dying pilot
as his Huey began the downward crash
out of sight. I have always held flown with
courage and held firm to what I believe in.
I don't deserve the endless night."

"Forget me not..." Whispered the captured American
as his captors jeeringly lead him away.
"Please my friends always remember me.
Please America don't forsake me.
Bring me home. Someday...."

July 10th, 2005, 03:59 PM
I heard the rumbling of tanks
and the
thunder of bombs and the
whizzing of shrapnel and
the jackhammer sound of automatic fire.

I smelled the stench of fear
and the
smoke of hate and the
flower of joy and the
decay of human flesh.

I tasted the soul's bitterness
and the
nectar of satisfaction and the
acid of living nightmares and the
lust for vengeance.

I knew of death
and the
fraility of innocence and the
violence of men -

Yeah. I am experienced.

July 10th, 2005, 04:00 PM
I stare through a thick black fog -
muscle-like in its consistency.
A phlegm -
clinging tenaciously to my flesh
as I pass into it.

A mural of black -
scarlett -
white and green -
it swirls maddeningly around me.

Invading -
my nostrils -
A sickly sweet and cloying scent.

Invading -
my mouth -
a bitter gall slowly rising...flooding.

Invading -
my sight -
a wild canopy of twisted images.

And I am drawn deeper in.

Forms take shape.
Black men.
White men.

Dressed in faded green.
Splashed red.

Babbling human voices
drowned out by -

Weapon fire!

Blending with -

Oh God! No! No! No!

I'm hit! I'm hit.

Charlie Bravo this is Red Alpha. What is your sit rep? Over.

Red Alpha this is Charlie Bravo. We are taking automatic gunfire on our left flank. Request fire mission. Cooridinates checkpoint left one zero zero down five zero zero. Over.

Eagle One this is Red Alpha. Over.

Red Alpha this is Eagle One. Over.

Charlie Bravo requests fire mission. They are taking enemy fire on their left flank. Checkpoint one zero zero down five zero zero. Over.

Roger that Red Alpha. Over.

Not again!
Never again!

All is calm.
Black and white.
The sun shines
and the names call.

The bittersweet silence of The Wall.

July 10th, 2005, 04:01 PM
A young boy,
of about four or so,
has come to meet his grandfather
for the first time.
He cannot comprehend
this black and glossy surface,
that his little fingers smudge.
He cannot read the white characters.
To him, they are squiggles in a child's game.
But he senses the seriousness and
shifts from foot to foot.
Suddenly, he spies a
bedraggled teddy bear.
It is sitting there all alone.
And sad.
Black and white.
A strange thing called war.
And a never met grandfather
are forgotten as he -
reaches for this bear.
He decides he will take it home.
So it won't be alone.
So it will be loved forever and ever.
His father and grandmother
cry silently behind him.

July 10th, 2005, 04:02 PM
A few feet away
an old and stooped man watches.
Watches the innocent child reach
for a stuffed toy he had -
held to all these years.
And slowly,
a wistful smile of joy
inches its way through the
liquid pain that were his tears.

July 10th, 2005, 04:19 PM
Thus, this portion of the tale ends. This golden kingdom, known as the United States of America, threw a whole generation into a meat-grinder and then turned their backs when the survivors came home.

It was never a declared war. It was but a conflict that they, ultimately, withdrew from. But they also withdrew from the men and women who went to this country called Viet Nam. Of all things that a country could do, this act is one that is difficult to forgive.

Years passed and a movement grew to recognize those lost in this conflict and those who came home. So a great black granite wall was created. Over fifty-eight thousand names were sandblasted into this stone. It was named The Wall and it stands in silent testament to the black and white cost of war.

The Wall and the land it rests on is hallowed ground. It is a place where the living come to speak to the dead. A place where the dead speaks back.

Items are left behind as if to illustrate the ultimate sacrifice symbolized by this monolith in black. Dogtags. Children's toys. Combat patches and medals. Uniform items. Letters. Flowers. Beer....

Then there are the intagibles left. The Pain. Tears. Despair. Rage. Peace and love. Mostly love.

When you look at this glossy black wall your reflections stares back at you. A reflection of a living face amongst the names of the fallen. If you look closely enough you may see the faces behind those names next to yours. Because they become you and you become them. There are ghosts that roam this sacred place. The ghosts of those lost and the ghosts of the ones that survived never to be the same again.

In parting, I leave you with the simple words of a poet greater than I. Take these words in passing and hold them close. For, sacrifice will happen again.

"We die with the dying:
See, they depart, and we go with them.
We are born with the dead:
See, they return, and bring us with them."

T.S. Elliot
Little Gidding, Fourth Quartets

July 10th, 2005, 04:28 PM
I grew up in the aftermath of Viet Nam as did many.

I remember my uncle having a flashback one day when I was running through the sprinkler and a car engine backfired. He threw me to the ground and started yelling orders. I will never forget the look in his eyes. I was seven. When he came out of it he started talking to me about the war. Spoke to me like I was another Vet and not how he spoke to his wife and his parents. No one in the family could understand why he would share such a hell with a child. But I was a very empathic child and I cared to listen when most of the nation wouldn't.

When I went back to school that following Fall we had an assignment. To create an award for an unsung hero. I wasn't much of an artist but I was good with words. I stood before the class and gave my award to all the men and women who fought in Viet Nam. To the ones that didn't come home and the ones that did. Because they had no parades.

The teacher next door was standing against the partition crying. He had been a medic in Viet Nam. This was in 1976.

Over the years I have come to know many Veterans of all our wars. The Viet Nam vets seem the most scarred. Not saying that war doesn't scar everyone it touches.

I went to The Wall and the emotions it wrought fair brought me to my knees. I could SEE it. I could SMELL it. <wry>

My husband says if that is how a memorial impacts me he is never taking me to Gettysburg.

Anyway, whether you like what I tried to say or not it came from deep within. I daresay I could never truly articulate the truth. I am not sure if I ever could.

However, I had to try.

July 10th, 2005, 10:03 PM
_handclapp BRAVA! You have wonderful talent SwordFlameSong! I was pleasantly surprised by how well you wrote these peices! You should probably send a sample to a publisher and get some serious feedback. Thank you for sharing that with us!

July 10th, 2005, 11:25 PM
Thank you. <blushing>

_handclapp BRAVA! You have wonderful talent SwordFlameSong! I was pleasantly surprised by how well you wrote these peices! You should probably send a sample to a publisher and get some serious feedback. Thank you for sharing that with us!