WIFE OF THE MAN FROM VIETNAM
Life can be so very hard
At the drop of a hat frenetically marred
When in love and living
Hell and heaven pursuing
As the wife of the man
Still fighting battles from Vietnam.
A vet’s wife has to be emotionally willing
With gathered strength daily moodiness encountering
Forever enduring to go the whole nine yards
Never knowing what hand is dealt by his fickle cards
Borne tolerance on special dates walking on egg shells
Tip-toeing through life on pins and needles.
Veteran wives have to be students of PTSD
Know well its ins-and-outs you see
Bearing with stamina seeming apathetic indifference
Directing in moments you least expect violence
Triggered by a churning, stifling, suffocating sound
In a crowd suddenly confining, in confusion milling round.
Time and again you must with fortitude exonerate his guilt
His suffering from surviving war’s battles in psyches built
His guilt assuage, wondering why brothers had to die, not me
His vital force forever infected by Nam’s tumultuous melee
For he’s seen carnage deeper than the normal eye can see
Reality lying just beyond the senses his life decree.
Forget about that word “normal”
For a 19 year old boy who’s seen death’s face abysmal
Normal does not apply…
I’ll tell you why…
He lived with wall-to-wall putrid fear unfathomable
He lives with profound misery he doesn’t understand
Senses still short-circuited send him round the bend.
What a poor wife deals with can make her want to scream
For always he contrasts one world with the other extreme
Back and forth, one foot here, then back there… ad nauseam
Back where he learned to kill… or be killed!
React quickly, without thinking, to bring harm… or be harmed!
To act with violence… or be victim of violence!
Men seduced by war’s barbarously bizarre world
See horrors in dreams, sights and smells unfurled
Reliving memories of what they saw, what they did
Forever imagining devastation to fractured souls deep down hid.
Fragile boyhood’s innocence lost in Nam’s destruction
Men wasted in the ugly business of killing’s confusion.
Existence entire was an obsession of Nam’s survival
Killing the man, their Vietcong archrival
Living earned by murdering
Just to get back to “the world” in dreams they clung to
These brothers-in-arms bonded through and through.
Only those who’ve ridden the beast can begin to understand
The depth of a brother’s love comprehend.
And while they were gone,
Fighting for their country in hell and beyond
“The world” they so loved, turned against them
Dishonored and spit upon them
So those returning with so much to get off their chest
Could not lay this evil war to rest.
Therefore, trusting no one, they turned to isolation
Demons eating at their weary soul’s conflagration,
O the unholy desecration!
Still lost forever between that world, and this
Painful memories tear at life’s moments of bliss
Hiding deep Nam’s unhealed scars
Invisible to the human eye suffering a world of scares.
From youth’s painstakingly taught morality
He learned the soldier’s art of immorality!
Life in Nam spent balancing his moral budget to cope
Living there with no morals, no conscience but hope
Living in a place you just had to survive
To stay alive…
where conduct disallowed back home… is customary
Killing in the precarious quagmire
just something you had to do… mandatory.
Vietnam, the catalyst for constant internal war
Way down deep in their soul, themselves they abhor
Forever unforgiving themselves for the surviving
Themselves… and those closest to them… punishing.
Bearing guilt… feeling always Out of step, out of rhyme
Lost in this new generation’s pace in time.
To many people, Veterans appear almost catatonic
Warily obsessing on a thousand yard stare lethargic
Driven to times they must be alone
Yet at other frightening times they cannot be alone
Skeptical of authority that let them down in war’s charade
By people they most loved, fought for, trusted, betrayed.
Veteran wives can only support their men
Try with Wisdom of Solomon to understand them.
Learn to give more than received, a woman’s touch bestow
For often veterans need more love than wives ever know
For wives must know, learning to live again… is killing him
For Nam’s memory still lies repressed, still biding deep within.
Though they desperately want to, and know that they must
Is it any wonder they find it so hard, again to trust
To merge back into society they offered their very lives for
That left them wounded, bleakly forsaken on a foreign shore
Society’s gang totally embarrassed by them
Offering no ticker-tape parades, for them…
Veteran wives must learn the three C’s
These thoughts must run through them easy as a summer’s breeze.
Create their problems… they did not!
Control how time and events affect them… I cannot!
Cure them… I alone cannot!
Veterans must heal themselves with therapeutic lessons taught!
For he’s now witness to cruel war’s deadly cost
Seeing just how much of “him” is irrevocably lost.
Learn to forgive him, caring not who is wrong or right
For true love has imperfect eyesight.
Close the unforgiving mouth, for right sorts itself out
When you tune sensibilities to the primal shout!
A wife must keep vets they’ve selected
To “this World” connected…
Listen with open ears
To make more pleasant after-war years
Hear behind his manly voice the fears…
Caress his wetted tears…
Vet families find it so hard to find their cloud nine
Often unable to have friends, who did not too walk the line
Friends… veterans feel they can’t afford them
For back in the day… they lost too many of them.
The hatreds, the fears, the guilt, too often combine
Strangling hearts intertwined in Nam’s awful jungle vine.
How can a still young wife hope to cope
With war’s inbred horror grope…?
To keep her man, her family… herself, able
Searching for a sane life that’s half-way stable?
She must have the soul of a saint’s sense
Turn bubbling hate to love with patience…
Then find within, more patience!
O how did she get herself into this precarious situation
Find a vet to bestow her adulation…?
Emerge as the wife in love with the man
Still fighting battles from Vietnam!
©Copyright 2004 by Gary Jacobson