It Don’t Mean Nuthin’

It Don’t Mean Nuthin’

by Gary Jacobson © 2003

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“It Don’t Mean Nuthin’”
A phrase oft repeated in Vietnam, worn paper thin
By soldiers used an awful lot
When it’s gettin’ bricky hot…
Under pressure with lives on the line
Melancholy existence on a definite decline.

“It Don’t Mean Nuthin’, they say”
Turning stone-faced from fears to walk away
As though something’s stolen part of their soul
Left no way sorrow’s grief to console Led too far astray in hell’s battles darkning gray
Forever boyhood humanity to betray…
Staggering memories stored way down deep on the pile
Hidden from the light of day…for awhile!
“But It Don’t Mean Nuthin’”

It Don’t Mean Nuthin’
He says, when things happen that mean plenty
To tough combat grunt gentry
As things in war too often do…
Boiling over in Nam’s killing zone damps and dew
Not able to face it
Not now…
Too painful to think about it
Not now…
So forget about it…
Bag it
Take this shit and shove it
Nuthin’ I do or say makes any difference anyway
So put it on the back burner till another day
Pretend it didn’t happen
Cause “It Don’t Mean Nuthin’”

It Don’t Mean Nuthin’
Means he couldn’t handle it that day
So he walked away
Fraught with a lonely stare of dismay
Repressed it…denied it
Sick of it…belied it
Pushed it down somewhere in the back of reality
Crammed down a crack of the last vestige of sanity
Lost in the context of where he was going
In order to go on doing what he was doing
Heartsick from unbearably painful sights
Took that next step away from unthinkable afterthoughts.
It Don’t Mean Nuthin’
He says, when the world seems so unfair In a world of unimaginable danger a very soul will unbare
Ordered to walk point again
Durn…
And it wasn’t even his turn
A shock
Load and lock
Go forth, yours but this violence to pursue
Go forth, as fears in the shadows ensue
Ordered to hump into the heart of the gloom
Dead weight on your shoulders of impending doom
In an alien, unknown war virtually alone
Without a love of his own.

It Don’t Mean Nuthin’
Cause nobody cares if you don’t want to
Never quite ready are you
For dedicated men constantly trying to kill you
Preoccupied with your dying
In wait for you lying…
Here, there, along jungled treeline
Prone behind that entangled vine
Just off the trail in a ditch’s rocky incline
Go, dive deeply into this living nightmare impacted
By some politician back home patriotically advocated
Cause “It Don’t Mean Nuthin’”

A kid begging for candy has a grenade strapped to his back…
It Don’t Mean Nuthin’
When you kill your first man…
“It Don’t Mean Nuthin’”
Forever haunted by the last look in his eye…
“It Don’t Mean Nuthin’” Receiving a “Dear John” from your girl, diamond ring inside…
It Don’t Mean Nuthin’
Tormented by water, leaches, footrot up to my thigh
It Don’t Mean Nuthin’
You didn’t want to live forever, did you?

Cause “It Don’t Mean Nuthin’”
No one back home can ever understand
Not even begin to comprehend
Feeling hot, sticky blood On your hand
Blood of your enemy
Paying dear for his tyranny
Or is it your own blood…maybe your buddy?
“It Don’t Mean Nuthin’”

You cry out in a primal scream of despair…
Welling inside voice a swear
“Where, dammit, where
In this fetid land is hope?”
Principled men, good men, find it so hard to cope…
But when in still silence comes momentary lull in the fray
Nestles a tear in the tough guy’s eye that day…
“But It Don’t Mean Nuthin’”

It Don’t Mean Nuthin’
When your best buddy…
On the narrow banks of rice paddy muddy
Your brother in arms
Steps on a land-mine in this world of harms
And as they do every blasted time in this festering hole
That mine blew a hole in his soul…
He lost his leg…
Hear him screaming for his mother beg…
Bloody and torn…
Lost and forlorn…
Hear him as like a baby he cries
Hear his last gurgling cry before he dies
Hold him as he lost his life…
Who’ll tell his wife
“It Don’t Mean Nuthin’”

Calmly wash the blood off your hands
Now lonelier in these alien lands
Yours but to bite the bullet…and go on
Now your brother’s bloodied and gone
To a far-off soldier’s hell for Nam’s sins to atone
Leaving you to pick up the pieces…
Fighting hard to keep from going to pieces…
“An It Don’t Mean Nuthin’ you say”
As you slump to the ground to pray…
End of subject…
You say, with lowly feelings abject
“It Don’t Mean Nuthin’”
Repeating a phrase growing increasingly thin.

You feel the horrors eating at you so bad
Yet, know you can’t afford feeling so sad
You’ve still got to keep your head about you
Raise beleaguered eyes to go on and do
For when being alert “is” life or death important…
You cannot relent.
Put away thoughts welling from soul depths cruddy
Wearing you down like a liquor besotted toddy
Can’t afford thinking of your buddy
With the far away eyes
There’s no time for grieving those mindless sighs
Just put him into that body bag filled with his agonies
“Cause It Don’t Mean Nuthin’”

There’s no time to cure an unbelieving stare
Malevolently looking to the forests to dare
Carry him to the medevac dustoff…
You’ll go insane unless the memory you blowoff…
With every fiber of your deep down being loving him
Wishing there was something more you could do for him
Feeling guilty…
In the war’s greatest travesty…
Trying not to cry
why wasn’t it you had to die…
“God…it Don’t Mean Nuthin’”

“Say it don’t Mean Nuthin’”
And just turn and walk away
When you just can’t handle it till some other day
Some far off day…
Only another vet can understand
Only another vet can comprehend
One who’s walked the rim of the last mile
One who says he never again will smile
Spending time still searching “the park”
From dawn till dark
Bravado belying the fateful tear
Hiding deep down inside his fear
Death’s specter still hovering gruesome near
Into the valley of the shadow I shall not fear
Cause “It Don’t Mean Nuthin’”

You didn’t want to be the one from the medevac
To turn your back
Face the creeping forest motley black…
Just turn and walk away
Back into the heat of deadly fray
Back where people try to kill you
You don’t plan to live forever, do you?
You know it’s now your turn to bleed
Plant in Vietnam your precious seed…
“But It Don’t Mean Nuthin’.”

Now when you hear vets say, “It Don’t Mean Nuthin’”
Just know…it means everything

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