Memories Lost (poem)
By Andy K. Williams
How can I not remember now just when or where we were,
The names of valleys, villes, or of a fiercely fighting foe,
When down we swooped on bending, beating blades
To board the bloody bodies of young men I'd never know?
Or names of upturned eyes in dirty sunburned faces
Whose hands aloft did pass me precious friends,
Winding chestdeep through the rolling seas of grasses
To bid adeu to buddies they might never see again.
The blur of years still freeze those frantic seconds
Till we climbed alast aloft on dusty humid hazes.
I'd fire at shrinking treelines at winking angry shadows
Then watch the sweating faces of the grunts around their gazes.
I'd see the silent questions they would never ask aloud
"Will they now live or will they lose this final fight?
"Will I, too, join them on some future medivac,
"Or suffer here the months ahead, this hell my only sight?"
I still kneel nights o'r bloody tattered greens,
The squirting, bubbling flows I fight to stem,
Or hold a head, a hand, while bloody bandage pressing,
While confidently smiling and hiding tears from them.
Those countless staring eyes I still touch and gently close,
I still see bloody shreads where once an arm had been,
A rolling boot reminds me it was once upon a leg,
I still am writing words I mailed to wives or to a friend.
I remember gutsy boys who clung too long to living
When lesser men might choose to simply die;
Their lives unlived, their girls unloved -- in triage,
Were set aside to die, but did not cry.
How many deadly darting dives
To frame and flame those angry little men
Who fought and fled to kill or die
As I, to live, did kill again.
With rockets spent and barrels warm
We'd often get that urgent call
To follow smoke to battle ground
To lift out wounded, dying all.
Then pale in face and dry of tongue
We downward skimmed and flared to slow
To pause exposed our ship to load
The seconds dragged till time to go.
Our humor flowed, relief to share
When high we leveled free from harm.
Our wit and common pain would soar
To match our joy and mask alarm.
Yet as the years compound the time
Since we flew on a jungle sweep
My misbelieving mind plays tricks
Rekindling dread, disturbs my sleep.
The wind in teasing grass and limbs
And sounds of choppers dry my throat,
A popping, crackling stops my heart
And garbage bags say bodies bloat.
The faces, places linger on in vivid live review,
Events and scenes rekindle all my grief and endless pain.
Although I see them bleeding and dying to this day,
I can't to endless places or to faces put a name.
—Andy K. Williams