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THE MANGROVE SWAMP

A soldier's nightmare the mangrove swamp
sucking and sapping the strength of our thighs
slimy and slippery and clinging and damp
with struggling men in ooze near waist high.

Pushing and shoving and ducking the roots
with mosquitoes all feasting on faces and cheeks
with black mud violating our tightly laced boots
and hot sun beating down, and thirsty and weak.

Great shiny leeches engorged with our blood
mean branches catching the straps of our packs
and breasting chest high in the grey tidal flood
wading and slurging in endless soft tracks.

Mud on our rifles once shiny and neat
dreaming of water and cold draughts of beer
exhausted and clammy in the close heat
Was that a snake? A quick dart of fear.

Dry hillock looming so near yet so far
tall trees beckoning in the soft breeze
as we fall on your banks and gratefully feel
the hardness of earth beneath our tired heels.

John A. Moller
Whiskey Two Company RNZIR

 

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