The phrase, "going to war", has always had ominous and forbidding qualities that can
reverberate to the very core of the soul. Experiencing such an ordeal has its own legacy. It
differs from person to person in varying degrees and the anticipation is usually far more
negative than the actual arrival into the area of conflict. Though each war has its own
realities with which to deal, it is not the war addressed by, "Going to War". The poem reveals
the war within when the psyche literally battles with the 'unknown' in its struggle to accept
the actuality of an event feared and imagined.
The eastern sky grew dark with night,
The west held light of day.
A lonesome plane in westward flight
Was taking us away.
When orders came for Viet Nam
And all the names were read,
They may as well have dropped a bomb,
Or shot us there instead.
Some few had been to fight before
But most of us had not;
Had never dealt with death or war,
Or fears of being shot.
Our words came scarce and laughter naught,
Concern was quick to grow.
The doubts and fears we all had brought
Seemed primed and set to blow.
A wave of silence dashed our youth
Against the rocks of war,
And in its wake, the naked truth;
We're little boys no more.
The time had come to set aside
The games of yesterday,
To give our step a longer stride,
To learn another way.
Now doubt looms dark and ominous,
A vulture from the blue,
That preys upon what peace remains,
From all the things we knew.
We pray to soothe our fears and dread,
For rest to ease our mind,
For guidance through the war ahead,
And mourn the 'world', behind;
And that one day we'll understand
Why people have to die...
Still, time grows near when we would land,
The miles were flying by.
The windows fog with quickened breath
In our descent to land.
We all are sure a brush with death
Is very close at hand.
We watch Siagon come into view
And wait to feel a blast;
Then hold our breath, as if on cue,
When wheels touch down, at last.
The war, for us, has just begun;
Our fates seem so unsure,
But we are warriors, every one,
Resolved we will endure.
©1971 by Jim Fish