5 Minutes ‘Til Forever
In '63, John Kennedy, lay rotting in his grave. Some say he died, before his time, but he never had to see, how it came to be, that a dollar wouldn't even buy a dime! 5 Minutes 'Til Forever, and forever's a long time dead; a man stood with a rifle, and aimed it at the President's head. 5 Minutes 'Til Forever, 5 Minutes more to live; soon people would sadly say: How much more does a man have to give?
At 17, I first wore the Green, of the proud, of a few good men; tho' a man I wasn't yet, then.
On a LST, a thought came to me, of Kennedy, and '63; and proudly I then stood for my flag, praying silently I wouldn't come home in a damn body bag. No one said to me, we weren't fighting for ol' Liberty, 'til long after I was there. You'd think someone, somewhere would care, that Americans are fighting and dying over there!
My one thought was in staying alive . . . and the year was '65. 5 Minutes 'Til Forever, and forever's a long time dead. 5 Minutes from a place called Chu Lai, as young men silently prepare themselves to fight .. . . and die? The Viet Nam War, Oriental Whore, and the thoughts that ran thru a young man's head. 5 Minutes 'Til Forever and forever's a long time dead. The heat of Hell, and the rains always fell; alone in an unfriendly land; a man has to prove he's a man, by doing the best that he can! Well, at least I'm now getting a darn good tan! Who said war is Hell? Ask that of the Marine who just fell . . . dead. This place is beginning to smell . . . bad.
With a map on the wall in the kitchen, while half of America is bitchin' and saying we shouldn't be there, they watch the 6 o'clock news, 'cause they have a son over there. A deadly hush envelopes the room, and their faces foretell of the gloom of doom, as the man names a place called Chu Lai; there's a tear in one father's eye, afraid that his son would soon die. A real man would never cry! But, dammit, 18 is just too young to die! Dad shakes his head once more, as they hear of the blood, death and gore, of these young men who died all alone. God, but he wished his son just would come back safely home! 'Cause Dad's seen it all once before, in a thing called the Second World War. 5 Minutes 'Til Forever, and forever's a long time dead. With a gun in my hand, here we take a stand, in the heat we wait in ambush, and I crouch down behind this small bush. Down the trail walks the shadow of a man, a walk straight into Hell not his plan; but no one can see, what holds destiny, not him, not you, bro, and not me! Booby-traps made of bamboo sticks, and the year is '66.
I line up the sights, and my muscles are tight, I dare not breathe at all, as the hammer's about to fall. Sweat runs down the crack of my ass . . . everything happened so fast! The outcome only time will tell . .. . and he laid in the dirt where he fell . . . dead as Hell! When the Reaper came, he didn't have my name, and I earned my 'steak and eggs' that day, with a man now dead but a few feet away. Thank God, I heard some dude say, it wasn't me today. The real world seemed a very, very long way away. Back in the rear with the gear, you just can't hide your fear, in a bottle of Black Label beer, and think back without shedding a tear. What the hell am I doing here? 5 Minutes 'Til Forever, and forever's a long time dead. Now there's Agent Orange . . . nothing rhymes with orange, but somehow that just seems to fit, 'cause this whole damn mess here is a big crock of--I'm still told there's a God in His Heaven, and the year is now '67.
As I step from the plane, in the sunny California rain, I've 'field-stripped' my last cigarette. My throat is dry, there's a tear in my eye . . . I'm home! And without a regret. What's a man suppose to do, when he played by the rule, but the rules are constantly changed? First a beer, then a girl, and give living a whirl! Then a shrink, if I'm not yet over the brink, and have my fool head re-arranged. Being back home in 'The World' again feels really strange. 5 Minutes 'Til Forever, and forever's a long time dead, but I'm not dead yet, Fred.
Marines are still going thru Heaven's Gate, and the year is '68.
Too many dead before their time, and the year is '69. And no matter what you may hear, you just can't drown your fear at the bottom of a Blue Ribbon beer. 5 Minutes 'Til Forever, and forever's a long time dead.
Today the factory closed down; ain’t a job I this whole damn town, or nowhere for miles around. I’ve a wife and a child; last winter was mild; but what happens come next year? It’s the damn future that I now have to fear. 5 Minutes ‘Til Forever, and forever’s a long time dead. “We don’t need you here anymore.” Never felt this way before. A new decade, any more promises made; the year they come and they go. All too often, much too slow. I’m not sure of the year anymore; wish I could sell my body like an effen whore, at least my family could eat, like before!
‘69 or ‘79 or 1982, on the wings of time it all flew. The good times that we knew, are just memories that make you feel blue. 5 Minutes ‘Til Forever, and forever’s a long time dead. Ain’t had a job for so long, done forgot what color they are! I’ve two hands and a back that’s strong . . . The house is now long gone; and yesterday they took the damn car! Damn it, I think they’ve now gone too far.
There’s a long black “V” in Washington, D.C. dedicated now to their memory. Those men gave all that they could give, but, what of those of U.S. who lived? What’s the future now hold, for you and for me, bro, now that we’re now back with our family? I sit in a room full of blue; and the year is 1982.
Then came the time, when food stamps were the next thing in line. The cold wind blew: it was about then that I knew, that this man was about out of time. A man I be, but no gonads on me; medals I have in a drawer; but they don’t cash in medals at the grocery store. Said I’d starve before I’d go to the store, with a booklet of that “funny money.” But she came to me, and quite tactfully, said: Don’t worry, I’ll go, honey. Food Stamp are as good as money, to me. 5 Minutes ‘Til Forever, and forever’s a long time dead. How she did it I’ll never know, the damn gas bill continues to grow; couldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole. They gonna shut it off? She answers me, No. I don’t think I’ll ever again be me; and the year is ‘83.
And I heard my son say, to his mother one day, that when he became a man, to be like his daddy was his plan. The smile of pride soon faded and died; the rest of his plan, you see, was not to have to work . . . just like me! 5 Minutes ‘Til Forever, and forever’s a long time dead. A man all alone with a gun, a gun pointed at his own head. 5 Minutes ‘Til Forever, 5 Minutes more to live; I have nothing more to give . . ..In ‘63, John Kennedy . . . But, she was by my side, saying: “Swallow you damn foolish pride!” With a tear in her eye she said, “If you die, who’s gong to take care of our son? ‘Cause they won’t be burying just one . . . Things are bound to improve, maybe we ought to move? But, my God, don’t do this to me! If not for yourself . . . think of your son, and me. Honey, put the gun back on the shelf.”
There isn’t a gun in our home anymore; often I stand and look out the front door; it might not be as good as before; but I’ve got my wife, and my son . . . ‘Cause she wouldn’t let me use that damn gun. I thank God each day, in my own way do I pray, that someday it’ll be like before. But, for now, we’ll hang in there, a little while more . . . at least. 5 Minutes ‘Til Forever, but, forever need no mean dead! I keep hearing the words that she said: “Who’s going to take care of our son? ‘Cause they won’t be burying just one; don’t you see?”
My God, don’t do this to me!
It wasn’t always easy for Vietnam Veterans to come back “Home” back to “The World” again after having served in ‘Nam. For one thing, we didn’t all sudden come back to the States en mass like at the end of World War Two. We drifted back, alone, when our individual “Tour of Duty” was over. And, to what kind of reception did we return? Were we hailed as heroes?
Hell no! We were spat on and called horrible things like “Baby Killers.” And, our own fellow Americans--literally our peers--were publicly protesting our involvement in Vietnam. What the hell was going on here? We go over there, we risk our lives, and limbs, and a hellava lot of us bleed, and some 58,000 plus were to damn die, and for why, to come home and be spat on?