That Look

Met up with Sam Te Miti today
Damn, he has the look,
and I recognise it immediately.
That almost gazing into the middle distance
of the next life and immortality kind of look
that you know telegraphs the final stages of the extinction of life.
Will he be the next one to slip beyond the veil?

The smile out the side of his mouth says "I'm OK"
but the eyes tell a different story.

He's moving a lot slower now
far less steady on his feet,
and yet in times past he was "Battle Efficient"
along with the very best of them.

Will it be my turn to read the Veterans Ode for him?

"Don't worry about me my friend."
he smiles,
" I'm living just one day at a time,
and each new sunrise is another victory
over all those bloody chemicals they bathed us in,
when we were over there"
" Yeah, you know EhoreViet Nam, Agent Orange,
all of that heartache and bullshit."

Our eyes meet and we smile, but that distant gaze says it all.

Some many names in so few years,
God those Vietnam guys could build a second wall,
and double-fill it with the names of the undead
those not Killed in Action in combat,
but living with that unspoken Angel of Death
Agent Orange.

©Mike Subritzky
August 2003