To understand my poem fully, i have to explain the setting.
We were trying to get the Battalion ready to go to Iraq, trying to teach the troops how to survive in combat.
This was being done at Fort Hunter Liggett California, desert.
This was my second time to do war games at Liggett.
A Liggett is a ground squirrel, which are everywhere there.
Digging fighting positions, you dig through their tunnels.
Anyway, a few years previous the Gods of War in the guise of Political Correctness, had forced on the Bees, females.
Where you used to be able to whip it out and take a leak when in the field and the call came, now, you had to worry about some female seeing you take a leak.
This time, i had a rifle squad on top of a hill so steep, it was deemed unsafe to send a backhoe up to dig fighting positions, so we dug them by hand.
We dug them.
i was squad leader.
Never ask your troops to do something you will not do yourself.
i showed them how to dig them right, all the fixtures needed in the positions.
Dug my own, and helped with some of the others.
And they were damn well done right!
i was trying to teach my troops, how not to go home in a body bag.
You fight the way you train.
Combat, the basic functions, should be so ingrained in your training, you don’t have to think when it hits the fan.
Anyway, good Seabees are Real Good Bitchers.
Ask any Navy Chief from the Bees.
Now, as we had females, to take a leak, a guy had to walk down this steep hill, to a hot stinking porta-head, take a leak, and them climb back up this hill.
Plus, you are constantly on their asses to drink water so they do not dehydrate.
you drink, you piss.
Fact of Life.
Added to that, when you trudged up and down that hill to take a leak, the troops were forced to hump all their chem gear, be in frag jackets, with M-16, web gear, included loaded mags for the rifle.
This lead to a hell of a lot of bitching, some of it mine.
After i had blessed the Naval Academy which graduated dumb asses, The dumb asses they graduated, the Pentagon, the Commander in Chief, his ole lady, their spawn, the horse they rode in on, and their dog, i did what a good leader is supposed to do, break the rules when necessary for the good of the troops which increases their effectiveness for the mission at hand.
There was this one old tree, mostly dead, but fighting to stay alive, at the top of that hill.
i made a command decision that when a man got behind that trunk as best he could, he was officially in the head, and could take a leak.
Told the females, i was sorry this would not work for them.
This tree, in my squad, became affectionally known as the pissing tree.
A Master Chief, knowing i could sling some words in poetry, asked me to write a poem about the experience.
This is it.
‘The Pissing Tree’
The Battalion said come go with me-
and we will show you the Pissing Tree-
You could go to Waikiki-
Or gay Parie-
Though you travel far or wide-
Go to the coast and watch the tide-
Nothing will thrill you so much you see-
Than to go to Liggett Land and see the Pissing Tree!
This was damn hard, dirty, sleepless demanding times.
When we came out of the field, and i had a few hours more or less free, with a shower and fresh set of cammies, i found the library.
i met two poets, long dead, through their poems there, and brought away two, one each, which have remained with me the rest of my life.
They are worth sharing.
i am a warrior, did and will do if life demands it again, what a warrior does.
But i despise the wasting of good mens lives, through bull shit wars, or bad leadership, Civilians and Military.
Let me introduce you, if you do not already know this one, to:
‘Suicide In The Trenches’
I knew a simple soldier boy-
Who grinned at life in empty joy-
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark-
And whistled early with the lark-
In winter trenches cowed and glum-
With crumbs and lice and lack of rum-
He put a bullet through his brain-
No one spoke of him again-
You smug faced crowds with kindling eye-
Who cheer when soldier lads march by-
Sneak home and hope you will never know-
The hell where youth and laughter go.
‘A Dead Statesman’
I could not, I dared not rob-
So I lied to please the mob-
Now all my lies are proved untrue-
And i must face the men i slew-
What tale shall serve me here among-
Mine angry and defrauded young.
Something to think about.
John C Carleton