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Page 46
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<< 45. Sketches47. Blood on the Tracks >>

Memories Lost (poem)

By Andy K. Williams

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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

<< 45. Sketches47. Blood on the Tracks >>