Whose Guilt Is It Anyway?
Poetry by Lachlan Irvine


How does that song go, "Suicide Is Painless"?
Like Hell it is, just ask those who are left.
The pain is real, the survivor's guilt grows stronger
With each mate lost, and depression is a bunker
You can crawl inside and hide.
But why should you feel depressed, didn't you serve with pride?
Didn't that slouch hat make you ten feet tall?
Wouldn't you take 'em all on for Australia?
Weren't you the greatest jungle fighter the world has ever seen?
Of course you were - and you proved it!
You were Uc-Dai-Loi! Number One! You won every battle.
The only thing you lost was your innocence,
And weren't your mates back home trying to lose theirs anyway?
You gave yours in the service of your country
That's reason to feel proud, not depressed.
And who will you allow to take your pride away?
The politicians, who made decisions
And didn't have the guts to see them through?
The protestors, who said they wanted to stop the killing,
Then sent money to the enemy to help him to kill you?
The old sabre-rattlers down at the pub
Who talk so loudly that you know
They can't be real combat veterans?
The mate who stayed at home and took your job?
The crowds who gave you a rousing send-off
But didn't want to know when you returned?
What about the nation which sees in you
A reminder of something it would much rather forget?
Don't you see, they all want you to carry their guilt!
No way man, tell them where to shove it!
Who are all of these people, compared to you?
You were the one prepared to sacrifice
You were the one whose life was on the line.
Stand tall and strong, the way we did back then
You and me together mate, we were the best.
We ARE the best!

Lachlan Irvine

For more Vietnam War poems, return to the Vietnam War Poetry Page.

Vietnam War Poetry