Christmas - Salisbury: 1979
There was a fire fight last night
nothing big just a few sprayed
rounds from an angry FN
while we drank beer on a balcony
at morgan high.
mind you, backs to the wall of course.
we might be kiwis but we are not stupid.
another hot african morning and
it's all left-footers to christmas mass.
Salisbury is beautiful
bathed is an african sun
blood red dirt
and the cool shade of jacaranda
trees in wide boulevards.
everybody in the church carries a gun
even the kids. communion with a .45.
later, in the afternoon
they drive the whole contingent
to a plush hotel for a christmas meal.
mind you it is hard to enjoy turkey
and stream pudding when you will all
probably be dead in the next 24 hours.
we sleep fitfully that night,
waking every hour or so, a trip to the toilet
and a nervous piss. we will probably all die tomorrow.
next morning we draw weapons, ammo and ration packs.
give "last letters" to the clerks and mount up.
we leave the city and drive through
several roadblocks on the outskirts,
all complete with heavy machine guns draped in
christmas decorations and camouflage santa claus dolls.
we are bound for operation area "tangent"
in the black heart of the communist south.
someone hums a christmas carol as i check
the gas setting on my rifle and the vehicles move
ever further into operation area, and the ambush zone.
peace on earth and goodwill to all men?
chance would be a fine thing.
22 December 2002