200 Days

200 Days

A Poem by Elaenor Aisling

A poem from the perspective of a GI in Vietnam. Some mild language, just be aware.

What I wouldn't give
to be back in the World* again
away from the sound of mortar
from fire, the rockets overhead
shrapnel and bullets showering 
the bunker at night

What I wouldn't give
to a have a quiet night again
in a warm bed
without fear of death every minute
but I'm really not scared of dying
I've seen death enough to know
it holds peace after pain

What i wouldn't give
for a day without mud
without the knife bladed elephant grass
that shreds our hands and clothes
A home cooked meal like mom used to make
not these miserable C-rations*
cooked over peaunut butter and bug repelent*

Sometimes I wonder 
if they haven't abandoned us
left us here in the jungle
in the heat of our enemies fire
Charlie* is getting stronger
he's cunning and knows this land
it is his home after all

Back in the World
They don't know what a hell we live through
Sure, they've seen the news on CBS
'What it's like on the war front'
This damned war no one wants to be in
They don't know what it's like
to fight an enemy you can't see
to run along a trail
praying you won't set off a booby trap
that will fill you full of shrapnel and take your legs

I've seen more than they know
men blown to bits in seconds
the look in a boy's face 
as he says his last
'Don't let me die! Dear God, don't let me die!'
They don't know what it's like
to see a man die next to them
a man they knew, a buddy
and as you look at him
think of his wife and baby
that he will never see again
he will never know his newborn daughter
and she'll never get to meet her dad

They don't know what it's like
to scream into a radio
begging for help
then finding your cries fall on deaf ears
crouching low in a muddy ditch
every sense in your body alert
for the slightest sound near you
then firing like hell into whatever
you see that moves

They haven't heard 
the whirr of birds* overhead
as they med'vac* 
what's left of your buddy
to a hospital, praying
he'll survive with his million dollar wound*

They've got no idea
you can only live it to understand
What hell we've gone through
we few who survive
we who manage to cheat death
one day at a time

They have not seen the children
desolated and ravaged by war
their parents dead
at least my parents are alive
even if I'll never see them again
Their little faces look up
their eyes as hollow as mine
they have seen enough
enough to frighten
even the hardest of men

They haven't been on guard duty
clutching your rifle
not knowing if Charlies' watching
if he's sneaking about in the brush
or about to fire another mortar

They don't know
they can't know
and I hope to God they never do
I have lived through hell and back
The charge of the light brigade* twenty times over
Lived through this dark land
that was once beautiful
but is now a mass
of mud, blood and tears
God I want to go home
see my family again, my girl
but i've got time left
200 more days to go
in this black hole they call Nam
Though no matter how bad 
I want home
I can't leave my buddies behind
these men i've lived with
cried with, bled with
I want us all to go home

© 2011 Elaenor Aisling

Author's Note

Elaenor Aisling

the World- GI term for any place outside of Vietnam, usually referring to the US
Charlie-GI nickname for Viet Cong
Peanut Butter and Bug repelent-C-ration peanut butter was so dry, when mixed with bug replent, would burn for about ten minutes, enough to heat a GI's meal.
C-Rations-military ration meals
Birds-name for helicopter
Med'vac-Medical evacuation by helicopter
Million Dollar Wound-an injury severe enough to get a GI shipped home to the states or Japan.
Charge of the Light Brigade-Epic poem by Alfred Lord Tyneson

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Very good piece elaenor
You so eloquently captured the perils, hopes, and fears of a soldier in this one. My heart goes our to the men and women in uniform

Posted 9 Years Ago

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2 Reviews
Added on May 21, 2011
Last Updated on June 13, 2011
Tags: war, vietnam, soldier


Elaenor Aisling
Elaenor Aisling

Limerick, Ireland....I wish.

I am currently a student. I write mainly poetry, a few short stories here and there. I love to read and write. Favorite authors include, Victor Hugo, J.R.R. Tolkien, Tolstoy, Wilde, Alcott, C.S. Lewis.. more..