But  Still​ 

A young man awaits, in the mountains,
For his true love, from the village nearby;
At the mouth to his cave,
Clutches a token she gave,
Recalls their last kiss ... and fleeting goodbye. 

She’s now hiding below ... in terror,
It’s just her, they’re trying to kill;
She makes not a sound,
Stays flat on the ground,
Enemy approaches, stays still ... stays still;
Better not move, stay alert ... but still.


*

Humidity’s high, in this jungle,
A monsoon is circling around;
I signal:  STOP! ... Nothing’s said!
’Tis a rise up ahead;
Look and listen, for any, strange sound. 

Thick canopy drapes down ... above me,
All nine, well aware of the drill;
There’s fresh tracks in the dirt ...
Patrol on full alert,
Spread out ... crouching, yet still ... real still;
Eyes searching ... hearts pounding ... but still.


*

I can see something ... slowly sneaking,
As it crawls through the bush, up ahead;
A human form starts to run,
So I raise up my gun,
And it drops, from my spitting lead. 

A thick bloody trail, soon leads us,
Up onto the crest of the hill;
A young girl’s in black ...
Rifle strapped to her back,
Face white and lifeless and still ... quite still;
Contorted, wide-eyed ... but still.


*

My patrol circles, her body,
And I’m staring at death ... where she lay;
Should we win, lose or draw,
This silly, crazy war,
I’ll never forget what happened ... today. 

Surely soon will be gone, all we soldiers,
And peace will return ... to this hill;
For most this will be,
Just a bad mem-or-y,
This war will soon end! ... But still ... but still?
Wars can’t go on ... forever! ... But still? ...


©

     This poem attempts to depict the physical and psychological confrontation between an Australian soldier and a Viet Cong guerrilla in their constant two-way battle for survival in the jungle. 

                 “My solution to the problem [of Nth Vietnam] would be to tell them frankly
                   that they’ve got to draw in their horns and stop their AGGRESSION ...
                                     or we’re goin’ to bomb them back to the Stone Age!”
 

                                                                       - General Curtis Le May, 1964. 

But Still