From the recording The Dwindling Road
Sort of a cross between Hemingway's "In Another Country" and O'Brien's "The Things They Carried."
There was a war waiting over the river,
And none of us wanted to go.
In the distance the night sky would thunder,
And the mountains would shudder and glow.
Here there were comrades and card games,
Over there were firefights and raids.
We feared for the things we’d be doing,
We feared for appearing afraid.
The sun on the river that morning
Painted a shimmery gloss.
There was a war in the green of the mountains
And a bridge that we had to cross.
We gorged on the sounds of the jungle
We drank in the sights that we passed.
There’s a splendor in all of creation
When your next breath just might be your last.
And here are the things that we carried,
As we marched on the bridge of pontoons.
Dog tags and rifles and ammo
And ponchos for the nights & monsoons.
And some of us carried our loved ones
In snapshots of Kodachrome
And candy & condoms, & canteens
Along with the letters from home.
And some of us carried the Bible
And some carried packets of dope,
Some carried charms that were lucky,
All carried ghosts up the slope.
Some carried on for the glory,
Some carried on for the flag,
But most carried on ‘cause they had to
Though it meant coming home in a bag.
You remember the terror of the ambushed,
The whistling of rounds overhead,
The shots you got off in blind panic,
The helpless who cried as they bled.
You remember the village you leveled,
The gooks you left twitching for breath,
And the futile/desperate pleas of the captured
In that crapshoot of life and of death.
And if you survived the last mission,
You watched for the big silver birds
That carried men out of that jungle
Where life was a game that’s absurd.
You dreamed of the countryside fading
In patches of treacherous green,
Of climbing through clouds full of chaos
To a sky that was light and serene.
In the mornings I walk to Fox River,
For the first ray of light on the ridge,
And I fumble for answers and meanings
In that war that was over the bridge.
And the sun comes to dance in the waters
And to brighten the dark of the skies,
But once you’ve crossed over the river,
You’re blind to the light in your eyes.