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THE GREATEST LIE

Sitting laughing in front of television
at the portrayal of innocent violence,
with men gut-shot, falling without blood
from the mounts of their imagination;
no skin-tingling horror there, my friend,
or dying men's boots drumming on the ground
just action men mindful of their slicked-back
hair. And from the horses groomed, well fed,
contented farts.

Wall to wall vision in soft technicolour
portraying the absolute adventure of war
and the most certain triumph of good over evil;
but there is no stink of death in it -
nor the sounds of rats scrabbling greedily
in the carcasses of man's brutality
riven men and disembowelled horses
don't often scream in our state house,
but all fall dying nicely on the fields.

Machine-gun bullets spraying out
but not actually making contact
or tearing a head off or shredding a limb;
after all it is the culmination of our dreams
upon a tinted film. No young men vomiting
promises in gouts of blood and fear, wetting
their pants in the final indignity
and crying for their mothers and lovers
as the world around them spins away.

Army ration packs spilling from their guts
as you roll them over to give first aid
or the last rites, depending on the colour
of their blood frothed upon the padi field;
no Hollywood brass bands there boys
playing stirring military music to accompany
the entrails and the shuddering bodies
flowing down the ridge and spurs of war
where body bags are stacked in silent mounds.

There were no secrets in our war and perhaps
it's just as well Vietnam invaded your lounges
whilst you ate your supper, and fidgeted at
the sight of immodest decapitation and the sounds
of napalm crucifying the backs of running children.
For otherwise you would believe
the greatest lie of them all:
war is not real,
war is a Hollywood image,
war is fun.

John A. Moller
Whiskey Two Company RNZIR

 

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