© Tom McIlveen

Winner, 2015 Boyup Brook Country Music Festival Bush Poetry Competition, Boyup Brook WA.

“There’s something amiss in your manner Eugene…ever since you returned from the war.
There’s something that’s dark and intangible there – that I’ve never encountered before.
Your eyes are as cold as a wintery night and as distant as South Vietnam…
and something has altered inside of you Boy…since you tried to appease Uncle Sam.”

“I’m sorry for being unsociable Dad, it’s those drugs that I’m taking for pain…
they put me to sleep when I should be awake, and are driving me nearly insane!
The doctor has said I’ll recover in time and be rid of the crutches and chair…
and maybe I’ll even be normal again, with his pills and remedial care.”

“I know that your body is healing Eugene, but it’s what they done to your mind!
They’ve brought you back home with your senses intact, but have left your emotions behind.
I hear you at night, when you moan in your sleep and awaken with tormented screams,
and know that you weep for those pitiful souls, who are haunting your conscience and dreams.”

“I’m empty and aching and wondering why we were scorned by the homecoming crowd,
who made us ashamed to be serving abroad, when we should have been honoured and proud.
They spat on us Dad, for the blood on our hands and the guilt that we couldn’t disguise…
and saw through the cracks where the light never shines, in the shadows that darkened our eyes.”

“Ignore them Eugene…they are gullible fools who mistakenly misunderstand,
that soldiers like you are mere pawns in a game and just links in a chain of command.
The masters of war will abandon you Son, when political push comes to shove;
then cast you aside into bottomless holes from their ivory towers above.”

“We fought for a cause we believed to be right and supported a country in need,
but only succeeded in stirring a pot of corruption, extortion and greed.
Who governs the meddling media Dad, when they blame us and damn us to hell?
For they are the ones who manipulate wars – to ensure that their newspapers sell!”

“But who will be buying their papers Eugene, when the truth has been finally told…
and who will be sending our soldiers to die when the masters relinquish their hold?
Remember my son… that the stones of rebuke have been thrown by the righteous before…
and soldiers like you will continue to bleed – for as long as there’s hatred and war.”

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