Parrish's Poetry Page

Last updated May 2004


The following poetry was written some years ago. I hope it gives you a feeling for what it was like in that place.


The Huey Pilot

Casually he walks to the slick, a helmet with dark visor in his hand,
stepping from the skid into the cockpit, the switches and dials at his command.

He may be tired from many runs, it seems he lives under this plexi dome,
but with the stick between his legs and the pedals at his feet, he feels once again at home.

He fires up that turbine as the pre-flight is performed, the Jesus nut begins to turn,
that machine begins to rock and now starts that steady "Whop", and air begins to churn.

As those massive blades begin to claw the air he skillfully lifts his baby off the ground,
the tail begins to rise and the front seems slow to follow but no better pilot will be found.

I never saw his face, I never knew his name, but Iíll never forget the day the Huey Pilot came.

With surgical precision he causes that Huey to hover, dip and dance behind a hill,
then he routinely skims the tops of trees, rising only to have his door gunner make another kill.

He listens to the Peter Pilot and Crew Chief as well as he watches for popped smoke,
glancing down he sees looks of relief on haggard faces, they know he will not choke.

With bullets pinging on the thin metal and stars appearing on the windshield he holds steady to the stick,
people are screaming to his rear, mortars dropping dangerously near, but he maintains a firm control of his slick.

He saves a dozen lives and takes supplies where no one else wishes to go, for him it is just another day,
at base camp he helps wash blood from the rear cabin and after he fingers new bullet holes he casually walks away.

I never saw his face, I never knew his name, but Iíll never forget the day the Huey Pilot came.
Copyright © August 1996 I. S. Parrish


These Men

These men walked through hell and having
passed through the flames lost a part of their soul.
They watched their friends get shot and maimed
and themselves paid a physical and mental toll.

They prayed for life and they prayed for death
as they coped daily with tragedy and pain.
They saw and heard things that would kill most
men and they attempt to forget in vain.

Mostly shunned when they came home because of
things done by a few other men they could only morn.
They risked the life that God gave them and all they
received from their nation and friends were jeers and scorn.

They walk, talk and even laugh like other men as
they pretend the past is forgotten and that they are healed.
But deep inside a part of them is as dead as the men
that returned in bags, forever in the earth concealed.

These men served in Vietnam, that land
of beauty and jungle, horror and rath.
They went because they were called and they
served because it was the honerable path.

Copyright © June 1996 I. S. Parrish
Submitted to The Poetry Exchange 6-13-96
Submitted to Creative Imagination's Poetry Page 7-4-96


THE HEALER

Some complained because this soldier carried no rifle,
a tall, lanky man from Nebraska, with depth in his eyes.

He had instead a pack over his arm, with a big red cross on it,
his badge of courage, he said, full of things to help others.

We called him ďDocĒ, it mattered not what his rank was,
a non-drinker so he always had a steady hand.

In the bush when the bullets struck we called him ďMedicĒ,
and he always came running, when others hugged the ground.

I saw this man carry those much larger than himself,
dragging some if he had to, with the determination of a lion.

I saw this man stuffing organs back in dying men,
often time crying as he worked, but smiling and calm.

Although he was wounded on many occasions he refused help,
always insisting that his scratches could wait for later.

This man held no degree from any university or college,
but this man held other menís lives in his hands daily.

He was a braver man than I, this man without a rifle,
I only cared for myself, and that badly, he cared for us all.

I hope you are proud , as should be, of the things you have done,
After all of these years, too late to see your face, I care for you now.

Copyright © May 1996 I. S. Parrish


DANCING WITH THE DEVIL

Before Vietnam my heart was pure and my conscience open and clear,
then I saw my friends maimed and killed and terror consumed my year.

Each endless day that slowly passed caused mounting anguish and pain,
and the desire to revenge the things I had seen made me even less humane.

After months of dust and heat and bullets I began to loose my soul,
as the steady diet of destruction and death began to takes its toll.

There was no shame nor caring nor time to think about another tomorrow,
I survived from day to day on fear and watched the waste in horror.

I Was Dancing With The Devil...

The sound of mortars and flash of flares and smell of blood has passed,
so the need to strike out and destroy and kill has gone away at last.

The smoke has cleared and the jungle is still and the bombs no longer fall,
and the Men and the boys who held the guns have answered the bugle-call.

Itís hard to remember the why and the cause of that long political war,
yet somehow I survived when many did not with only a mental scar.

So I went home when the dance was over and the devil returned to Hell,
but the music and memories live on forever in my heart and mind as well.
Copyright © April 1996 I. S. Parrish
Submitted to Echo Magazine 5-1-96
Submitted to A Poem A Week by Alisa Smith 7-2-96
Submitted to The Poetry Garden 7-17-96


THE FACES IN MY DREAMS

After thirty years I still see faces in my dreams,
some who never grew to be old men.
Most went off to war with honor and pride,
hoping their future they would win.

The images float by like specters,
I see some laughing while others cry.
Each one from a different background,
none thought they might be mangled or die.

I had hoped to put them all to rest,
I had hoped that time would make them fade.
But as the years slip by the more I remember,
the more of my dreams they do invade.
Copyright © April 1996 I. S. Parrish
Submitted to the "Poetry Exchange" 4-23-96


THE NIGHTMARE

A young soldier got off an plane at Tan Son Nhute airfield, just outside of Saigon.
The heat was stifling and still, the smell of tent canvas strong in the humid air.
Plastic bags were loaded on the plane he left, bodies of men he did not know.
The nightmare had begun....

He was assigned to an Infantry company, a grunt, proud of his training and unit.
The base camp was a sparse dusty haven, sitting on a hill, surrounded by jungle.
During the day he would dig holes in the ground, bunkers to hid in when the mortars came.
The nightmare continued....

He went on patrols at night, always scared, dodging bullets and pungi stakes.
He made friends with the other men, they laughed, ate crummy food together.
Sometimes he only had a friend for a day, the mangled form flown out by Huey.
The nightmare got worse....

As the months passed, so did his youth, he was old at nineteen and a half.
He went down a dark hole one day, a tunnel, they gave him a flashlight to find his way.
A man he did not know, smaller, dressed in black, shot him in the chest.
The nightmare had come alive....

His soul departed that day, to comfort I am sure, his buddies wept in silence.
His mortal remains returned home, unheralded, given back to the earth.
His name engraved on a black obelisk, The Wall, a reminder for the survivors that...
The nightmare will never end.
Copyright © April 1996 I. S. Parrish
Submited to Echo Magazine 5-1-95


WE PLANNED TO GO KILLING

Lying in the rain and mud, I hear the screams of tormented souls.
We had planned to go killing, killing we received instead.
The point man got through the ambush, then the forest came alive.
Many friends are scattered around me, some bathed in blurry red.

A morter falls to my left, living things are scattered and burned.
If only the darkness would hide me, the jungle shield me from harm.
The commo man stares through marble eyes, his radio the only thing alive.
The lieutenant howls into the handset, trying to sound the alarm.

There is firing in all directions, the M16 stutters and the AK47 cracks.
There is the smell of smoke and cordite and blood, a tinge of fear.
The medic tends a man with a hole in his belly, he may be lucky.
Some have fallen and hold to stumps, others know death is near.

A man runs this way, stumbles and falls, he looks so tired.
Crimson flowers blossom on his chest, begins to crawl, no place to go.
More morters fall, I see black silk, they drop death on themselves.
The earth shakes, the trees tremble, time itself seems to be in limbo.

Forever trapped in this place, although I have walked away.
The sights and sounds, long over, remain stitched in my mind.
If God were there, He must still be weeping, a waste of flesh and nature.
The jungle, after all these years, has hidden what was left behind.

We must never again, as long as any can remember, plan on going killing.
A single life, so precious, has more worth than buckets of gold.
The survivors have aged, children have issued from those children.
We should try something different, sane, let them all grow peacefully old.
Copyright © March 1996 I. S. Parrish
Submitted to The Coffeehouse Book of Poetry 7-4-96


ROOM OF SORROW

Deep within the recesses of my mortal soul lies a room where secrets they be kept,
there are visions and pieces of time, in this place it seems where the devil himself has slept.

When moments of despair over me do wash and horrific images crowd my mind,
I know the door to this room has fractured and unpleasant thoughts I do find.

This room is a dark and loathsome place, kept best under lock and key,
it's intended for the storage of unwanted specters, never to be let free.

There are times when I slip in to mentally fondle some thought, long ago stored in shame,
the Deceiver whispering in the recesses, at my doorstep laying the blame.

Skeletons line the walls where paint has chipped, then fallen, and dark nasties do reside,
old crates brim with horrid stories, dusty shelves are full and demons do confide.

Through our life love we might receive, happiness at times even offers a sweet tomorrow,
knowing we must go on, smiling in pain, laughing at death, there will always be, The Room of Sorrow.
Copyright © February 1996 I. S. Parrish
Published by the National Poet Society June 2000 in their book "America at the Millennium" (Also available on the web at "www.poetry.com"
Submitted to the "Poetry Exchange" 4-6-96
Submitted to The Short Story Page 8-12-96


HOW DO YOU SAY GOOD-BY TO THE DEAD?

I look in those cold, glassy eyes, so still and staring.
I remember when there was a smile there, a twinkle, life.

I touch that cold clammy skin, waxy, dry and pale.
Not long ago it was warm, pulsing with life and feeling.

I hear the silence, see the mouth frozen forever.
Only yesterday there was laughter, words of home, curses.

I see the hands, now claws, twisted and empty.
They once wrote a letter, patted a puppy, stroked a cheek.

How do you say good-by to the dead?

There are things I forgot to tell you, they slipped my mind.
There never seemed to be enough time, or the right time or place.

We were too busy doing other things, living, talking with others.
Time slipped by, we missed each other, you died and forgot to tell me why.

Sometimes we are to concerned about what others think, of being ridiculed.
We don't say the things we feel in our heart, the thanks, the gratitude.

You left me with these gifts inside, words that should have been uttered.
I'm sorry I forgot, I loved you, I will miss you, please let go of me now.

How do you say good-by to the dead?
Copyright © January 1996 I. S. Parrish


WHY DON'T YOU ANSWER WHEN I CALL YOUR NAME?

Why Don't You Answer When I Call Your Name?

I sit hunkered down in a sandbag bunker, tracers flying overhead.
Only yesterday we laughed and talked about things back home.

Why don't you answer when I call your name?

We've seen some things together, I guess both good and bad.
We've walked a lot of miles through vines and mud and rice.

Why don't you answer when I call your name?

You told me your wife's name and the names of your kids.
I shared with you the photos I had and a letter or two.

Why don't you answer when I call your name?

I came to love you as a brother, even though men aren't suppose to say
such things.

You have shared with me when what you gave me was the last there was.

Why don't you answer when I call your name?

I can't bear to look at the place where you stood only moments ago.
I'm afraid of what I will find or what might not be there.

Why don't you answer when I call your name?
Copyright © January 1996 I. S. Parrish


Prior years work
Every Viet Vet Should Read This

You can reach me, "Bub" Parrish, by e-mail at: isparrish@ptsdmanual.com

Poetry

Academy for American Poets

The following pictures from the Byrd Archives



Copyright © 1995 I. S. Parrish