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KILLED IN ACTION

I think I understood
the long lines of protest
ranked in Auckland's streets,
the day we turned your bodies over
with booted soldiers' feet.

Face down in the padi field
of the country,
which you so loved,
and died for
in the whispering torrents of lead,
pouring down from the gun-ships
high above.

Startled by the stench of it all
maggot fat faces kissing the ground,
your black-clad bodies somehow
taking root, growing down,
in mud you cursed
yet loved.

Hot, musty, old museum basement smell
omnipresent in the monsoon heat,
the accusing stink reminding us
of the fragility of our frames,
and you lying there quite dead
black clad men without your names.

Turning our eyes away
as the bitter bile of truth
burnt our hearts in its passing,
and wanting to vomit
in the moment of recognition,
that faceless men
had put you there.

Taking from your pockets
decomposing photographs,
of smiling children
who somewhere on far horizons
looked up for the last time
at the sun-glint from bombers' wings,
and wished for their fathers'
comforting arms.

John A. Moller
Whiskey Two Company RNZIR

 

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