Friday, November 04, 2005

ROC May '76



November is war poetry month.
It will be on war, military, death and other morbid stuff.

The following poem was about some of my experiences during my national service days. Okay, it was not actually a war, but an exercise to prepare us for war.
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ROC May '76

In stony silence,
in fits of exhaution,
we hunched & huddled
in the blood-red mud
& watched the 81s opened up
punishing the hills beyond the ridge.
Not for us the adage of glory and country
but faraway images of home,
a beer, a shower, & a woman to cuddle.

We hunched together
waiting
the final manouvers of the battle.

Its tracks gouging out clumps of clay
a tank broke cover,
lumbered up a shell-scarred slope,
an armoured caterpillar.
Somewhere to the east, defiant GPMGs chattered.

All around us rolled
a fine drizzle
like cold gunsmoke,
& a stench of cordite and diesel.
And riverlets of rain flow down dented helmets
to sweat stained brows.
No cheers, no haste
(have you tried lighting a wet cigarette ?)
we heaved ourselves up with giant efforts
laden with packs and weapons and fatigue
and coaxed tired limbs
in mud-caked boots
to trudge a final kilometre to base.

09-04-88

6 Comments:

Blogger Gilbert Koh said...

This is such a nice, authentic poem that I feel duty-bound to pick out all the little imperfections in it ... so that you can bring that much closer to perfection.

"Exhaution" should be exhaustion.

"Opened up" should be "open up".

"Cuddle" sounds too cutesy.

"Manouvers" should be manoeuvres.

"sweat stained" should be hyphenated, and in any event, sweat doesn't stain. Unlike, say, paint or chilli sauce.

This next part:

we heaved ourselves up with giant efforts
laden with packs and weapons and fatigue
and coaxed tired limbs
in mud-caked boots
to trudge a final kilometre to base.

... feels just a little overwritten. If you chop off about half a dozen words, you would get more impact.

06 November, 2005 17:28  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

Gilbert, thanks for your comments!
I didn't realise there are so many spelling mistakes! Have to correct them in my original piece!

This is one of my favourite poems.

06 November, 2005 23:42  
Blogger Alson Teo said...

I really like this poem, this is an excellent piece! :)

07 November, 2005 16:03  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

alson, thank you.
those who went through national service should be able to relate to some of the feelings in the poem! :)

07 November, 2005 16:27  
Blogger David E. Patton said...

I like this poem also its very good and I feel like I'm there with you. Its the kind of poem that I wish that I had written.
David

13 November, 2005 01:15  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

Hi David,
glad you like this poem too. :)

I'll put a link to your blog (great poetry you are writing!)if you don't mind.

13 November, 2005 13:37  

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