An Old Soldier's Eyes
Author: Shiloh


Well, I'm an old soldier,
and I'm sittin' right here.
You wanna look in my eyes?
Why, just buy me a beer.

I'll sit here and stare back,
as you search for my pain,
(as if you could see it...)
but I won't explain.

You think that you know
what you're playin' with here.
You can't see deep enough
to see all the fear.

Do you really want to,
can you handle the load,
of the things in my eyes
that have made me so old?

They say an old soldier
has eyes older than time.
Tell me what you see
when you look into mine.

The innocent child,
as he picks up that gun?
The fright in his face
with nowhere to run?

When bodies were mangled
and minds just shut down,-
can you see all of that?
You're beginning to frown...

Maybe, just maybe,
you don't like what you see.
And if that's the case,
why, that's good news to me.

'Cause there just ain't no reason
for killin' no more...
it's never solved much,
now, or before.

It's all sort of crazy,
this thousand-yard stare,-
and now everyone wants
to see it somewhere.

That way they can tell folks
they know how it lies,
'cause they saw an old soldier,
and they looked in his eyes.


Comments on this poem/writing:

Bipedalguy ( -- Thursday, November 1 2007, 05:38 pm


Probably Viet Nam. (Thousand meter stare)?
As I see it, the difference between an innocent civilian and a soldier is that one of them has had to put on a uniform, (instead of finishing his education), carry a weapon and face something way beyond what words can convey, with both hands tied behind his back, under unspeakable conditions, for a very long time, and if he is lucky enough (or unlucky enough) to make it back, have that "innocent civilian" spit on him, and call him a baby killer. It makes me sick.
Your poem is outstanding, and I wish I could better express my feelings about the subject. I finally realized it's better to keep my mouth shut.
Thanks for a great write, and for your service for which you were given back so much less than nothing.
shiloh ( -- Friday, November 2 2007, 03:41 pm

the place had lots of names...

"nam" is the lame hollywood and macho-guys way to say it. Vietnam. Indo China. Nam Viet. Cochin China. Siam. I prefer Vietnam, or, as it was in the part I was in, the Republic of South Vietnam. Not sure where the term originated, but Thousand Yard Stare is appropriate for how your mind kinda went into neutral sometimes. You've seen the pictures. Maybe the Aussies called it 1000 meter stare, but we called it the thousand yard stare. Credit likely goes to some journalist somewhere.
Bipedalguy ( -- Friday, November 2 2007, 06:59 pm

Yards vs Meters

I'll never say "Nam" again, now that I know it's used by lame Hollywood guys.
I'm American. I probably used "meters" because of exposure in my civilian work (marine sonar)where we used the term.
To me "Thousand yard stare" is when despair causes rejection of surroundings and the eyes stop focusing and relax into a blank, distant stare. Close-up things take on a double image.
I experienced it often, and when it happened, I never noticed when it began. I would find myself in that state and never know how long I had been that way.
Meridian ( -- Friday, November 2 2007, 07:33 pm


Hey Shiloh! Very descriptive write. You have the gift to paint a picture in your words, even if it may not be a pretty one. I'm just glad you came out of the war alive!

Great work Shiloh!
shiloh ( -- Saturday, November 3 2007, 12:22 am

the stare

only thing i can relate the stare to is after all the stuff has hit the fan and it's over, and you are standing there, not quite realizing you are ok, or not dead, anyway... and it all comes crashing down into your mind and you can't really understand or handle what just happened or what you took part in... you go blank.
Terrie* ( -- Sunday, November 11 2007, 04:33 pm


this is deep-- very well expressed---i can not begin to imagine the weight put upon your soul--i can only tell you of the pain i feel through your words shared---difficult getting warm inside-- after living and seeing pain ---even with eyes sealed---it's never over---sadness lives in the eyes that lived it and seen it---
i too am happy that you made it back safely--
God Bless & Happy Veterans Day! Terrie*
shiloh ( -- Sunday, November 11 2007, 06:37 pm


thank you, terrie... peace... hank
John M ( -- Monday, November 12 2012, 12:56 am

Thousand Yard Stare

I, too, know of which you speak, Shiloh, when your eyes focus on nothing in particular. Your "mind's eye" sees what no one else can see, and sometimes it's unnerving. Don't mean nothin'. Keep up the good work.
Name:                                           Remember Me

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