Gert Strydom

Gold Star - 29,864 Points (03 April 1964 / Johannesburg, South Africa)

The Bad Lands - Poem by Gert Strydom

Nowhere in the bush
where lions, leopard,
crocodiles, hippos
and snakes dwelt
felt really bad to me.

On patrol at times
a hidden landmine,
a booby-trapped corpse
could shatter you
with a thousand
hell hot pieces of steel
and still skill, tenacity
and knowledge kept me safe.

Even in Angola facing enemy armour
where shells swished past,
Ratel armoured cars were trapped
and shot out
and the enemy
hatched in steel caskets
that were armoured cars
and tanks at a time,

where hyena, jackal
and vultures ripped through bodies
of shot, sliced, ripped Cuban
and Fapla soldiers
we overcame
and although the cruelty of war
and lost of human live
gripped me
and the smell penetrated
up into my soul,
the ground stayed pure
and African
as if we did belong.

Yet when I visit that little hill
(in Natal)
where Dingaan misled Piet Retief
and had him
and his companions slaughtered
and fed their bodies
to the birds, the wind, the sun
their spilled blood is still glowing
as if radioactive
and that place
feels really evil to me.

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, May 4, 2010

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