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A Tidy Battlefield (poem)
By Paul Hellweg
When Sergeant Burns had his arm blown off,
someone picked it up and placed it on his litter.
Say what you like about our tactics in the 'Nam,
but we always kept a tidy battlefield, we weren't ones to leave the odd arm or leg
just lying around.
Intestines spilling out, skull cap gone AWOL,
nothing we couldn't manage,
nothing we couldn't gather.
Tagging and bagging, cursing and gagging,
we did our best to honor our pledge,
leave no one behind, not even a foot.
A lifetime of sleepless nights later,
I wish we'd been as diligent
with all the unexploded ordnance
we left behind,
land mines, bombs, artillery shells,
and those M79 grenades I fired
into tracer-laced darkness,
then walked away the next day,
leaving them in paddy muck,
no return address,
no expiration date.
– Paul Hellweg