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THE INFANTRYMAN

You belted my young shoulders with a hundred rounds,
bronze slung in bandoliers across my heart,
and on my hip a bayonet hung sharp and deadly bright
as on booted silent feet you sent me
into jungle's night.

And around my neck there hung my name
an identity disc to withstand the flame,
whilst on my webbing straps pulled tight
grenades you hung with deathly bite
as we went in to jungle's night.

Mass produced my plastic rifle sat with ease
and reflected not my green-greased face,
but loaded and ready it heard my heart
in the hunting, careful pace,
in the jungle's velvet dark.

A peculiar comfort the morphine syrette
slung secure around my neck,
waiting to plunge in writhing thigh
of a friend quite wretched, pierced
with the unseen bullet's sigh.

Bayonets wiped upon the earth
and cleaned with leaves in places grim,
as all the sounds fast echoed away
in the rising of the smoke,
and there on his back a broken bloke.

Suppressing the cry of grey-green brains
and exhaustion of lung bright blood,
where tracer spun and flew and whanged
in the tangled trees and hanging vines,
whilst counting the hours of Vietnam time.

Belted my shoulders with a hundred rounds
and prepared me well for the napalm's sounds,
painted my soul with green-green grease
and taught me not the sounds of peace,
the sounds of peace.

John A. Moller
Whiskey Two Company RNZIR

 

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