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A RETURNED SERVICE CLUB

An old bloke sitting in the corner
tight as a Taihape tick,
not making much sense;
reciting in a monologue
his regimental number -
perhaps that is all
he wished to remember.

A young man sitting at the bar
listening with what remained
of his hearing
to the rising voices
at his back:
The enemy don't even
wear a uniform.
What kind of war
is that?

Not like our war at all,
you remember,
the big one!
Thousand bomber raids
with massed tanks and guns,
incidentally it was a war
which we won.

The young man did not reply
but merely turned in vacant agony
of too many mangrove swamp days,
got up from his bar stool
and walked to the cemetery,
to say a prayer for his mates
who came home a different way.

As he walked in the rain
and flinched at the gates' shadows,
he wondered in reflection
whether his Vietnam rifle
had been pointing
in the right direction.

John A. Moller
Whiskey Two Company RNZIR

 

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