A Veteran’s Tears

I recall the day I met him, when I went to read my poem

About the Anzac spirit, at the district veterans home

He was sitting in the corner, medals on his chest

But from his haunting memories. He would never rest

 

He beckoned me to join him and I sat beside his chair

In tones he spoke so softly, his eyes a vacant stare

He said “I’m grateful for your visit and the way you make words rhyme

Having listened to your story, it’s time to tell you mine

 

I was barely nineteen years of age, when I donned my jungle greens

I never had a second thought, it was all part of my genes

Pop served on the Western Front, Dad Kokoda Track

I had no inhibitions, ‘cause they all made it back

 

I found myself at Nui Dat, boarding choppers at first light

If I practiced all I’d learned, I thought that I’d be right

But all the courses I had done, didn’t seem to count

Trudging through the paddy fields and the casualties began to mount

 

After twelve months they sent me home and I saw how life had changed

As if everything I valued, had all been rearranged

Friends had turned against me, for going to that war

So I embarked on the Vung Tau Ferry and went off for a second tour

 

Tet should have seen a ceasefire, but that was just a con

In villages and cities the firefights still dragged on

We were from many units, fulfilling our own role

We wore different coloured lanyards, but we only had one goal

 

The enemy fell upon us and all that I can say

These were no peasant farmers, they were regular NVA

They nearly over ran us, at Coral and Balmoral

And when we finally drove them off, there was no victors’ laurel

 

I came home in the dead of night and they sent me on my way

I wished I had of joined my mates, laying buried in the clay

I drifted as a homeless drunk, no one shed a tear

Until the Salvos dried me out and I found myself in here

 

A nurse observed this tortured soul as he began to cry

And said “I think that he has had enough, it is time to say goodbye

So thank you for your visit and for listening to what he said”

And she wheeled him quietly sobbing, to the sanctuary of his bed

 

Tomas ‘Paddy’ Hamilton
12/09/2017

 

FILE PHOTO: A Vietnam veteran lays a cross to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan at Gallipoli Barracks, Brisbane, 18 August 2016. Original photo by Sergeant Janine Fabre, digitally modified by CONTACT.

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Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

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