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Down by the Riverside

        Ain't goin study war no more
        Ain't goin study war no more
        Ain't goin study war no more

During the time Daddy was becoming Dad,
the armies and armies of green plastic soldiers
went on with their wars, my empire of the private
grown. Walter Cronkite tallied each day's casualties,
and my soldiers named themselves Americans or Viet Cong;
they zipped themselves up in long full bags or lay about
without their arms and legs. My soldiers bloodied themselves
with our garden's mud, and they did so under orders
from the eight-year-old sergeant whose father
had not been home in months.

And since I had not seen him,
even in the crowds laughing at Bob Hope jokes,
a new crowd each new place, I commanded
that the Army needed chaplains more than sergeants,
and the next Sunday I joined church, begged God
to help me lay down burdens and bring Dad home;
and that day I baptized each of my soldiers
in large garden puddles, blessed the crowd of them at
attention, and studied them not once more.

Written by Forrest Hamer


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