A Soldier’s Bright Christmas Star
by Gary Jacobson © December 2005
I stare at a light shining in distance so far
O’er bloodletting fields this Christmas war star
Glowing o'er poor orn'ry soldiers like you and like I...
I wonder as I wander, have I come here to die...
As Jesus gave himelf to die...
Out under the sky?
Have I come to bring joy to this mad world
To sow seeds of peace, democracy, or enmity unfurled?
Fading Christmas joy reminds me of what I’ve got...
And what I’ve not!
No Santa Claus, no reindeer not one single snowman in sight
No Christ child nativity scene to proclaim the way right.
I dream of a snowfall laying blankets of white
Changing “the world” to wintertime bright
Bubbling with all the music, elves and goodies I can conceive
That once-a-year magic called Christmas Eve.
Tis silver bells I hear with mirth joyfully ringing
Heavenly choirs of sweet peace singing...
But not in Nam ... for a soldier just nineteen years old
Huddled in my foxhole trying to act bold
Joyous heralds of the skies jitter before jaundiced eyes
Dreams jaded by too many a traumatized surprise
Waiting for Santa, my very world split by thunder
My sweet-and-sour life turning on itself bipolar.
And I wonder if Jesus had wanted for any wee thing,
A star in the sky, or a bird on the wing,
Or all of God's angels in heav'n for to sing,
He surely could have it, 'cause wasn't he the King?
But I'm just a mortal soldier, a groundpounding grunt
A pawn of fetid war, a point of the spear catamount.
Do you hear what I hear ... on this midnight clear
Carol of the bell’s ringing, mortars singing?
And if Charlie pops up his small and sprightly elfin head
Impish or mischievous, he’s good as dead
I’ll share with him the only Christmas spirit I have to dole
My M-16, jingle bell rock ... and roll.
This traditionally festive season knee deep in gladiatorial fear
Soldier boys forlorn gather round, devoid of Christmas cheer
In place of sugar plums dancing in their head
Dreams of horrible death dance instead
War’s organized chaos of the killing deed bled red
That into this random war gung-ho naive boys led.
I patrol on Christmas day, samo-samo, through jungle holly
Humping like any other day in humanity’s folly
Silently humming Christmas tunes lively and quick
Hump another klick ... or twenty, what a kick!
Ride steel birds of war o’er green tinseled valley
Mesmerized by distant firefight’s dim light dancing jolly.
It’s hard for warriors the true spirit of Christmas to receive
When they’ve lost so much they once did believe
Lost irretrievably mid demands that breed insanity
Lost the basic goodness of humanity
Where warriors kill to live ... live to kill
The circle of life waiting just over the next hill.
Boys sent to fight for “the world” with God’s own integrity
Nourished by destiny to protect home and family
But home’s nowhere near my motley foxhole stark and lonely
War’s folly affording no real Christmas joy jolly
O’er battlefields nurtured by Vietcong hosts in yuletide season
Heavenly hosts proclaim unheard celestial reason.
Soldier boys biding pain, watch solemnly that brightest star
Shining over this Christmastime war
Boys all around fighting, dying, meeting their maker
Sent into Hell’s monstrosity by war’s creator
Hopes haunted by Nam’s thousand knives sigh
War-hardened hearts quietly cry.
Stare across the miles, to “the world” so far
Sustained by faith in a bright Christmas star
Forget for one day hate’s killing barbarity
War fervor reigning o’er specters of inhumanity
What will this holy night bestow ... this sacred night,
Far and away from “the worlds” joyous Christmas light?
See wise men bearing gifts from afar in the sky
With dreams of home, my girl, my car ... wondering why?
I must evade thoughts of irate hate, moldering out there
Try to think good thoughts of peace and love to share.
Make steeled resolution’s promise, “I will survive!
I will arise as a man from war’s desolation ... alive!”
Walking this sweet-and-sour land on Christmas day
Staring wearily wary still in the heat of the fray
Still possessed by vision of the Christmas war star
Touching the shrapnel scar earned in this war
I wonder as I wander...
How high from God's heaven a star's light did fall
And the promise of ages it then did recall.
(from L) Larry Jackson (Killed Jan '68), Smith,
Tony Quitmeyer (Killed Jan '68), Eeil Gooding.
Photographer: Romain Voeller
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