It Ain't Me (Ripped)

["Some folks are born made to wave the flag."]

It was a song, a good song and
- a vet told me -
it was a Nam anthem.

A song embraced by grunts
and remembered through groans,
hummed through the sweat,
in the jungle.
Regular guys stuck and
sticky in the jungle
knew the tune.

["Ooh, they're red, white and blue."]

draftees pushed into the jungle,
scared, dying, wounded,
turned inside out,
without choice,
in the jungle.

* * *

Today I heard a tv ad from the next room,
offering something or other to buy.
It played the Song, and I walked in to hear it again.

But the ad-makers had grabbed the opening
guitar chords
and the first lines and
Then tore away the rest,
ripped away the guts of the thing,
and welded the chords back on the end.

Leaving off the anthem's meat.

["Some folks inherit star spangled eyes,
Ooh, they send you down to war, Lord,
And when you ask them, 'How much should we give?'
Ooh, they only answer More! more! more! yoh,
It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no military son, son.
It ain't me, it ain't me; I ain't no fortunate one, one."]

* * *

I did not go to that war.
I would not go to that jungle.

I sometimes wonder about me
in that jungle.
Would I have lost an
arm, eye, leg, mind?

I stayed in this jungle.
I marched and shouted and showed much anger.
I talked and yelled and cussed and even cried.

I did not feel the fear the grunts felt,
not the fear in the jungle;
I could not know that.

But I did feel fear:
fear in the street,
and fear that the politicians would win
- for the sake of winning -
on the backs of the grunts,
dying in the jungle.

["And when the band plays "Hail to the chief,"
Ooh, they point the cannon at you, Lord"]

* * *

And now I hear the Song again,
but played only
to sell a product,
a product wrapped in broad hints of the flag.

They had reduced the Song to a huckster's jingle.

And the young probably would not know
what the ad-makers had done,
what they had done
to the soul,
to the anger,
of the Song.

But I will always remember.

["It ain't me, it ain't me."]

Harry W. Yeatts Jr.

[Lyrics to Fortunate Son by John Fogarty]