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365 AND A WAKEY

 

Three Sixty Five and a Wakey, the old hands would yell,

On your first day in country, your first day in hell.

At first it seemed funny, why count time this way,

If luck walked beside you, you'd go home one day.

 

But without really thinking you started to count,

Each morning at sunrise one more day crossed out.

Time seemed to crawl, would each month never end,

Like all those before, you were following the trend.

 

Three Sixty Five and a Wakey, each new one you told,

As the fresh faces each week came to replace the old.

They left with a smile, knowing their turn had come,

To get back to the normal life, back to the fun.

 

I woke that last morning, a day like the rest,

But today it was my turn to dress in my best.

The Freedom Bird waited; it was back to the world,

Back from the war into which I'd been hurled.

 

They'd said it was easy, just get on the plane,

Then get off in Sydney and start life again.

Go back to your loved ones; forget what you've done,

Don't worry that yesterday you'd carried a gun.

 

We got off the "Big Bird" that had winged us away,

To be met by officials who gave us some pay.

They gave us plane tickets and said "See you mate,"

"Your plane home's tomorrow, so don't you be late."

 

Left to our own devices, with no place to stay,

Alone in a strange city, at the end of the day.

We hailed a cab and said, "You know this rat race,"

"So find us a room and we'll check out the place."

 

We headed down town and said "What the hell,"

"We've returned from a war so let's hit the RSL."

After finding our way, we were told to our surprise,

"You can't come in here 'cause you're not wearing ties."

 

"You've got to be kidding" we chorused as one,

"We're just back from Vietnam and looking for fun."

But the doorman stood fast, with us feeling like fools,

He was doing his duty, just upholding their stupid rules.

 

We told him our views, then went off down the street,

To hell with them all, we'd just follow our feet.

Then up ahead was a doorway, with music quite loud,

One quick look inside and we'd found the right crowd.

 

The 'Black Panther Club' was the name on the door,

A place for Yank soldiers, a haven from war.

They were here in Australia on a few days respite,

Then back into battle to continue the fight.

 

They welcomed us loudly, so full of good cheer,

Some with great envy that we'd seen through our year.

The drinks passed round freely, the night it grew late,

But to everyone there we were a buddy, a mate.

 

We woke in the morning, our heads in a spin,

We weren't even sure what motel we were in.

One look at our watches and hell what a shock,

Our plane was soon leaving; we hadn't set the clock.

 

We grabbed the first taxi, a mad rush to the 'drome,

Cause if we didn't get there, it was a long walk back home.

When we at last found the counter, the sign said "Full Flight,"

But they fitted us on, when we told of our plight.

 

It was a marvelous feeling to see my hometown again,

Despite all the traffic, the crowds and the din.

When I walked up our footpath the reality struck,

It really was all over, and I blessed Lady Luck!

 

Copyright - John Casey - 21 January 1995