I heard the sound of the
Chopper fly by overhead.
It must have been the one
We jumped out of in some
God forsaken location in the jungle.

Go and kill the Yellow man.
That was my first orders after
Boot Camp once I graduated
From High School.
He had done nothing to me.
I did not ask for our government
To get involved in someone’s war.
It was not my war.
But they drafted me
And put me right in the middle of it.
I honestly do not know how
I have survived it this long.
I was forced into killing people
That did not do anything to me.
Even after the battle, the smell,
The corpses with gaping holes
And missing body parts,
Flies that covered them, us,
The Vietnamese, and the
Vietcong dead remained with me.
Even when I tried to sleep they
Are still there with me.
It is all in my dreams.
Haunting faces of humans
That did not deserve this.
I wanted so badly to go back home,
To be with my wife that I
Married before I left.
I try to imagine holding our new
Baby that she had after I left.

We were out in the jungle
Only a little ways from some village.
The foliage had just been sprayed
With Agent Orange as we walked by them;
Handling the soaking wet leaves
To see what they were doing.
Then we stopped and rested behind
Some bushes in front of the village.

Jack was always the funny man.
He helped save my sanity.
I think I would have lost it long
Ago without his sense of humor.
He was just standing there
With his back to the village.
He started to say something
When a shot rang out from the
Village and Jack’s face disappeared
As he was shot in the back of the
Head by some sniper.
I screamed out at the top of my lungs
Then I noticed everyone on the street
stopped and turned and stared at me
as the helicopter flew above the town.
My body had made it back home,
Unfortunately my mind stayed behind in the jungle.


About Randall

Welcome to my mind. From it come such writings that have been posted here. The blog Nightly Sky contains the poems that I have written. Sorry. I like writing and poetry.

40 responses »

  1. Ben Naga says:

    Can I point you to this post:


    as I think you, and anyone else who enjoys “The Return”, might also enjoy that one, which is a kind of update of it?


  2. Ben Naga says:

    Thanks for your compliment.

    The decades roll by but, alas, we seem to learn nothing. 😦

  3. tmso says:

    Both excellent poems. I can’t imagine what it must be like, but these help with the understanding. Thanks.

  4. Anonymous says:


  5. Michael Gillan Maxwell says:

    So intense and compelling! I wasn’t there, but many of my contemporaries were. I am that age. It was something that scarred our entire generation in ways that are still unfolding. Thank you for writing this and posting it!

  6. Betty says:

    My husband can relate to this one… after decades of keeping it buried, he’s just now dealing with some of the horrible memories. Thanks for posting this… war IS truly an unnecessary hell and it doesn’t go away when the troops come home.

    • Randall says:

      I am so sorry for him. It is a horrible thing to have to deal with. As you may already know, you have to show him a lot of understanding. Thank you for your comment.

  7. addielicious says:

    It made a great picture in my mind. Superb.

  8. Aurora, HSP says:

    Powerful mind movie. Nice work, Randall. I admire your courage to share so openly 🙂 What the world needs now is more… we become so dehumanized with so many gadgets to “communicate” with… oxymoronic, somehow. Writing like this unites us once again.

  9. Anne Schilde says:

    Wow, can’t bring myself to click Like on death and it’s so hard to comment. These images are so strong, and even stronger knowing they are real. Not sure why, but the flies really got to me bad. Ugh!

    • Randall says:

      So unfortunately soldiers see things constantly that no one should ever have to see. Even to their best friend getting what is called “blown away.” This is one of the many reasons that cause the mind to become so traumatized. Thank you for stopping by and your truthful comment.

  10. Ina says:

    Real and raw, very impressive.

  11. Lindy Lee says:

    Such mental pictures are difficult, no, impossible to erase; may fade occasionally but reappear hauntingly…

  12. Brilliant stuff, a real inspiration to those of us attempting to emulate. Really communicates the horrors and hardships of wars such as this both mentally and physically.

  13. This is a powerful poem! Thank you so much for sharing. It reminds me of the conversation I had with a Vietnam veteran, and you just expressed what he told me he was feeling in such a beautiful and heart-burning manner!

    “War does not determine who is right, only who is left.” http://goo.gl/6R9SE

    I hope one day the earth will renew herself and we as species will regain our sanity and will never repeat again what we keep doing to one another ignorantly.

    • Randall says:

      And now after Vietnam we have another generation that I am afraid will suffer the same fate, The Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Thank you for your very insightful comment, I appreciate it.

  14. Hudi says:

    Intense. Personal experience?

    • Randall says:

      No, I had a “school” exemption that kept me out. On poems like this and “After the Storm” and “The Anniversary” and such, I piece together case studies, trying to understand from their point of view what is going on in their mind. Then I try my best to present it to people hoping that others will understand their hurt and mental anguish, trying to do away with the stereotype of people who suffer mentally. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting.

  15. willowdot21 says:

    Life is hard, memories make it harder. That is a truly powerful piece, I was not ready for the ending , I should of seen it coming but it just caught me unaware! Power to your pen!

  16. I love poetry that is real, this is one of the best pieces I have read. Sincerely Thank you for sharing this.

    • Randall says:

      I do write some variety, but a lot of the poems are stories or such, especially from a psychological perspective. Thank you so much for your comment; I always appreciate input and feedback.

  17. Miss Edee says:

    I love this poem so much it’s crazy. I also suffer from PTSD, flashbacks, and body memories, although not from military action, but a very different kind of childhood war. I have a lot of relatives and who served in Vietnam and two grandparents who served in WW2. They also suffered PTSD and flashbacks. Thank you for such a respectful treatment of such a serious problem for so many, shedding light and understanding on it at the same time. This, by far, is my favorite of yours!

    • Randall says:

      Yes, I can’t say I know what you are going through, because everyone is different, but I can understand you having problems. WW II also was common, but then they called “shell shock.” Now that the science of psychology has advanced, it is a little better understood. But like you having problems, it is the same, not all PTSD with flashbacks is war related. It is trauma induced.

  18. Graphic, raw, powerful, intense and human. This is what poetry should be for. Brilliant Randall. Just brilliant.

  19. timotheous128 says:

    This is fantastic stuff, good sir! Seriously, I was sucked right in the moment the soldier landed.


  20. SidevieW says:

    Thank you. For those of us who have never experienced anything like that, it is a shock to think of real people, scared, bored, unhappy.

    And the exposure to agent orange killed so many after they got home, the uncounted casualtys

    • Randall says:

      You picked up the reference to Agent Orange. There we so many that even had to go through areas just sprayed on their patrols like in the story without any kind of warning. So many died or got cancer besides the PTSD. War causalities continue so awfully long after it is over. Thank you so much for stopping by and your insightful feedback. You also have such a great blog.

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