THOSE EYES - Michael Garneau

_____________________________________________________________________________ I served with the 1st Air Cavalry Division in Viet Nam from March 1967 through November 1968. I was attached to several units while there, as there were never any slots open nor available for my obscure MOS. This, of course, means in the Army that you become superfluous personnel and are available for any assignment they deem appropriate, usually as an infantryman or a shit-detail person. I was attached to 3 Infantry or more precisely, Airmobile Infantry... (GARRY OWEN!). The areas I wound up in included several LZs in the Bong Son area and a long stint at Camp Evans up in Quang Tri province. Like most of the men I served with, as well as almost all the men who served there at all, I was a not-so-willing participant in acts of war and aggression. As an infantryman by default, I had occasion to take a few too many long walks through the countryside and sit long, dark nights on the defensive perimeters of some pretty hairy places. I won't get into that too much. It seems that I have spent a long time trying to forget something I cannot. Faces, I will never forget. Names, I cannot remember. The poem below just sort of fell out of my head a few weeks ago, and it recounts the tale of my first contact with the enemy, just a few short weeks after arriving in country, and being called out on an all night alert on an LZ in the central highlands. The nightmare it describes, though it no longer happens to me, is an accurate description of what it made me feel and the way in which war and conflict haunted me and affected me to the roots of my existence. I have shared it with a few people I hold dear, who have encouraged me to get it out there to be shared with those persons to whom it will mean the most. _____________________________________________________________________________


by Michael Garneau Now I lay me down to sleep..... Tired, peaceful, calm. A breeze blows through the window My blanket keeps me warm. Eyes closed, drifting slowly down Where tranquil waters flow. This place belongs to only me! It's somewhere you can't go. And every night, I see THOSE EYES, They glower and they glare. Opened wide, almond eyed And straight at me they stare. In sleep, I toss about and moan. Sweat soaks my wrinkled brow. In dream, I hold my rifle still, Take careful aim! And NOW!!! Two claps of thunder rip the night! THOSE EYES wince with the pain. They close for just a moment, Then stare at me again. MY GOD!! THOSE EYES seem closer now! I ask, how can this be??? Can he be coming closer? I aim again. We'll see!!! Three more explosions split the calm. I watch THOSE EYES get hollow. I know the owner of them, now, Will never see tomorrow. But still, THOSE EYES stare back at me! The right one filled with blood! And then, they close and slowly, Pull the face down in the mud. Now, THOSE EYES are closed, you say, Will never stare again. But let me tell you something, folks! This is just where it begins! THOSE EYES look at me every night! They live in me forever. I beg! I plead for them to go And when will they? Not ever!!!!!!!!!!! _____________________________________________________________________________ This little poem is dedicated to the many faces whose names I fail to remember and to all those who paid the ultimate price for what we believed in. _____________________________________________________________________________

Copyright © 1996, Michael Garneau
Michael may be reached at: or