Friday, err. . . Farrell

I thought I’d provide a different flavor of poetry rather than the usual Kipling. It’s a poem written by SGM Alan F. Farrell, a 28 year veteran of the U.S. Army Special Forces, and currently a professor of French here at the beloved Institute. He served as a radio operator in Vietnam and most of his poetry is a reflection of that time spent in the jungle.



The Man Who Outlived His Lieutenant

Lieutenant and me used to have this, well… kinda argument
About what to do in an ambush
I’d already been in a couple, figure I’m a vet, an aguerri, a beenaround
Duck the fuck behint of a tree burn off a mag wait till they get tired
I got more ammo’n they do more time they know
If they mess with me too long I’ll call down the Johnson

That’s a combat man ‘ere talkin’, sir
Seen the bear an’ smelt ‘is fur
Shots in anger, C(ombat) I(nfantry) B(adge)
Get in a fight, jus’ do like me

Lieutenant he don’t see it thataway figures
Somebody fire you up only way to act is get on him
Assault through it on line break it up
Fire and maneuver like in the book
Discipline pree-vails on the field of battle troops get to
thinking all’s they gotta do is get shot at, they’re not soldiers any more… just targets

That’s a combat man ‘ere talkin’, sir
Seen the bear an’ smelt ‘is fur
Shots in anger, CIB
Get in a fight, jus’ do like me

I say bullshit do love my Lieutenant though bright and curious and tough
We all do drinks beer with us packs sandbags with us keeps T(actical) O(perations) C(enter) off our back
Wants to do Right and what’s more translates that Faith into Act
Cuts square corners like they taught him at V(iginia) M(ilitary) I(nstitute) not because
He has no imagination but because Honor is what keeps this butchery from
Being butchery but he can’t sell me Honor… not at the cost of my ass

That’s a combat man ‘ere talkin’, sir
Seen the bear an’ smelt ‘is fur
Shots in anger, CIB
Get in a fight, jus’ do like me

I say I doan wanna be butcher but most of all I doan wanna be the beef
Important to him to be neither but a soldier
Like his Old Man and his paratrooper at Normandy teddy bear Captain in the Ardennes
In the end though he pretty much listens to us pretty much
And don’t sell us for nothing and we talk and sweat in the sunwashed dust and shiver in mountain fastness
And soldier’s Honor rarely enough intrudes into the soiled business at hand

That’s a combat man ‘ere talkin’, sir
Seen the bear an’ smelt ‘is fur
Shots in anger, CIB
Get in a fight, jus’ do like me

We stumblefumblebumble together upthendown Lao mountains
Curse and laugh and Christ I laughed with him
Silly futile fatal ironies I’d never laugh at now preposterous paunchy greying Citizen
And we carrybury our dead a man here firefight there ones and twos
Yet at each loss he withdraws a little ages a little sages a little talks a little less about
Honor more about men hurtmen lostmen wastedmen thesemen ourmen more like me

That’s a combat man ‘ere talkin’, sir
Seen the bear an’ smelt ‘is fur
Shots in anger, CIB
Get in a fight, jus’ do like me

In the six kilometer square grid Lower Left No Bomb Hotel Nine
A bonetired sweatsoaked montagnard snatches a vine from across his face
Steps out onto a trail threading its way along this ridgeside just
As a bonetired sweatsoaked P(athet ) L(ao) ambles aimless home
Infinite moment of locking eyes fumbling fingers
Rounds crack shattering branches scattering leaves spattering dirt

That’s a combat man ‘ere talkin’, sir
Seen the bear an’ smelt ‘is fur
Shots in anger, CIB
Get in a fight, jus’ do like me

I duck the fuck down burn off a mag wait till they get tired
I got more ammo’n they do more time they know
If they mess with me too long I’ll call in the Johnson
I’m burrowed deep into the embrace of a fatroot tree
Shelter enough from fire’s reach rounds thwack the trunk spike the black soil
Shelter enough from Honor, too

That’s a combat man ‘ere talkin’, sir
Seen the bear an’ smelt ‘is fur
Shots in anger, CIB
Get in a fight, jus’ do like me

But the second I’ve taken to hide does not end
And somehow it seems that what threatens me comes from back there not up front
Sure enough out of the brush busts Lieutenant piece in one hand grenade in t’other
Bolts past me is that a look is that a look a look
Heads right into it Follow Me Aw Jeezus, sir, what’re you doin’
You’re gonna get

That’s a combat man ‘ere talkin’, sir
Seen the bear an’ smelt ‘is fur
Shots in anger, CIB
Get in a fight, jus’ do like me

Was just a smallish hole and we did what you do
Cleartheairway stopthebleeding sealthewound but before long
Those fingers go bluegrey then those lips bluegrey then cold
His hand actually goes cold in mine goes cold I cradle him bloodless me tearless
Gentlybutgently turns out Honor can’t keep
This butchery from being nothing but butchery I was right after all

That’s a combat man ‘ere talkin’, sir
Seen the bear an’ smelt ‘is fur
Shots in anger, CIB
Get in a fight, jus’ do like me

We wrap my Lieutenant in a ponchomyponcho I was right after all
Carry him on our backs won’t lug this man on no pole
Who died on his feet and face to the enemy I
Would have died in a huddle behind a tree face in the dirt
And now surely shall in soiled sheets old man who outlived his Lieutenant
But right after all

That’s a combat man ‘ere talkin’, sir
Seen the bear an’ smelt ‘is fur
Shots in anger, CIB
Get in a fight, jus’ do like me

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One comment on “Friday, err. . . Farrell

  1. Long time no comment. Hey, I call you out on my blog on the 28 APR – come by and defend yourself.

    Snicker.

    BTW, drop me an email and let me know what your next plans are.

    Cheers,
    Phib

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