Carry Me Home (A Reading From the Old Guard to the New)

 

Carry Me Home

(A Reading to the ‘Old Guard’ from the ‘New’)

* Originally written for, and inspired by, the men of the (Vietnam) Veterans Arts Council.

** Read at the “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans” Committee Fundraiser

 

Gentlemen,

   –though kneel I should—

I sit before you this day

Soul split into two

And with so much to say

 

Inside I ring like a bell!

As the pride, it does swell!

Is honored and proud

   –my heart beating loud!—

To sit before men

    –these Chiefs, my kin!—

Who’ve been before me through hell.

 

This half is the soldier

   –steadfast, head held tall—

Who never gave in..

Nor “fell out” to “sick call!”

 

 

 

This part is the one

Who’ll “sleep when I’m dead”

The one who stands watch

While the rest dream in bed.

 

The OTHER, you see—

   –this whole different me—

These days the face in the mirror

Not who I used to be.

 

Even my friends—

   The ones who’ve long been—

Have gotten the clue

(And told others the news):

“Stick round him, man,

You’ll SURE get the blues.”

 

So I sit here today

Humble, broken—it’s true.

For though I did not

I’ve “walked in your shoes.”*

 

 

(*That is, I know what the sweat

     –like the RAIN!—it can do,

To the base of the body,

Which to save you must use!

But tired and aflame,

   –once blisters ensue–

I know how it feels in them

 cheap combat boots! )

 

But, men, I came here not

To prove nothin’ to you.

It’s just now that I’m “home,”

I hope you can be, too.

 

No, we weren’t even born

Back when none “welcomed home” you,

But we know and we feel it

Alas ours is most true.

 

And as we are men

Who are so much like you,

We say what we mean,

And would never leave without you.

It’s the ethos of war

Jungle, desert, or monsoon.

And there are so many more

Who, as once did you,

Like me feel so “heavy”

As I beg unto you

To hear these last words,

If it’s the last thing you do:

That, as you’ve needed us,

So shall we need you too.

 

 

           IN MEMORIAM

[Dedicated especially to all those—

     collectively—who we’ve “left behind,”

whether “over there” or, having lived,

      still never “returned.”]

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