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Mike’s Nightlies

Michael and I were comrades at arms
Both Vietnam bound and mired in harm
He to a ship offshore
Me to a boat up ruddy canals

While he fed hungry tanks
My job was busting stream banks
Yet we delivered the same
Part of the game
Pounding patriots
Without blame.

The cost to Mike and me
Was the same in the end
We brought home poor health
Instead of wealth
A poverty of mind
A purpose now blind.
How can a man so tall
Suffer such an ignominious fall?

Off to defend mom and flag
Returning to insults and scurrilous slag
Our hearts burning in our chest
Not knowing peace
Not finding rest

How could our country cast us astray
Dooming our nights
Haunting our day?
For eons and nighttime’s
Withered away our souls and our hopes
Dashed day-by-day.

While heroes arose from our fathers brigade
Our generation was doomed to despise
Even while defending the very same flag

My rivers ran deep and muddy and broad
And Mike’s swirled from the same enfilade

Yet our eyes would meet
Our words transpire
Though our worlds could never conspire
To find peace or contentment

Yet a singular lifeline of rope
Gave to both of us continuous hope
Of a better day to come
An evil we had yet undone
Never to be solved for Mike
Yet simmering in my breast.

Those brown boys I did smite
Running in mud and slippery spite
I see and feel them every night

May God grant me Mike’s peace.
And from my nightlies be unleashed