A body covered in ink etch memories,
Of a time being wild and free.
Leaving home on a jet plane,
Never knowing if you’ll be back again.
Fresh faced and wide eyed,
And laughter quells the reality of dying.
New men you regard now as brothers,
For they have seen you at your worst,
When war has taken it’s toil,
And sought to return you to dust.
Looking into each other eyes,
Knowing that this may be your last,
A right of passage that must be passed.
A letter is exchange in hand,
No words are spoken,
Just an acknowledgement of your last stand.
There’s no glamour, no heroics,
Just a silence that pierces the heart.
As the beat of your blood races,
Through rubbled filled streets and precise paces.
You turn to see familiar faces,
Covered in dust and sweat,
In love and regret,
And the signal of fire,
Throws thoughts to the wind,
And blood fills streets,
Of young brothers you’ll never see again.
Our Greatest Enemy,
Doesn’t lurk in the mountains of Afghanistan,
Or the alleyways of Iraq.
Doesn’t call for the heads of the innocent,
Or buried beneath rubble from a drone attack.
Jihad is not their battle cry.
They are the ones who send their young to wars,
With no hope of a return.
Pervert patriotism as a means to serve.
Turns virtue into vice as a catalyst to destroy.
Use love as a manipulation to deploy,
The greatest treasure a nation can employ.
Am I a good soldier because I believe these thoughts?
That fantasies about enemies to fuel our lust,
Was forsaken as the gust of a bullet,
Rendered our knees in mud?
That the ink of my brothers,
Are etched into my soul,
That no amount of celebration can restore.
Is love of country,
Blindness of truth?
And is naiveté of good,
The burden of youth?
My boy turns one today,
And I’m half a world away.
Will he remember my face?
And run into my arms when I call his name?
When I look into his eyes,
Will there be a moment of surprise?
An awakening of deep love inside?
Will I be the man he needs?
To swing him high into the trees?
To nurse his wounds when he bleeds?
And be the North Star to refocus his misdeeds?
Will he look at me differently when I wake from dreams,
Startled by explosions and young lives deceased?
And a picture of him is stained with sweat from the desert sun,
And fingers rubs the dust and burns off the broken ones.
A phone call pierces the air with laughter,
And once again a lonely heart finds solace from disaster.
Distance heightens a longing that only time can defuse.
And will I ever be the man strong enough to be called his muse?
I prayed for the first time today. After what happened to Thompson, I decided it was time to pay the man upstairs a visit. Man it was fucked what happened to Thompson. I was in the LT truck and we were going down this narrow road, almost an alleyway with houses on both sides. As a gunner I was scanning the roof tops and the windows making sure those fuckers didn’t start hitting us. Then all I heard was a pop, and “were hit, were hit!” coming over platoon coms. LT got out to see what happened and I started to pull security. I heard LT call in Thompson KIA back to company. Thompson was the first KIA in our platoon. SPC Kennedy in the lead vehicle and a kid about 15 peeked out from the alleyway and threw the RKG-3, it’s an anti-tank grenade. It went up into the gunner hatch and down into the humvee and hit Thompson who was sitting in the back behind PVT Malloy, the driver. I’m scared as fuck man, I don’t want that to be me. But what can you really do?
I don’t even know why we are here anyway. They keep telling us this bullshit about winning hearts and minds, but I really don’t see all that. I’m tired of this sand up my asscrack everyday. I’m tired of my balls being chaffed. I tried to use that shit they sell at the PX, I forget what it’s called something glide or whatever. That shit doesn’t work. So I go commando now. Keeps it dry, but my balls start to stick to my legs. Shits fucked up. And it’s getting too hot over here now. You should see all the salt that collects on my back after patrolling. I’ll take a picture and send it to you next time. We have to drink a lot of Gatorade here. We have a cooler here in the LT truck and we fill up everytime we roll out. I drink a lot of it. Our Humvee breaks down because with the weight of the armor and the A/C going at that same time, the truck can’t handle it. So we have to turn off the A/C and roast like pigs. It’s pretty boring over here if we’re not patrolling. I usually just watch TVs shows and go the gym. I’m trying to gain some weight. But the food is good here in the chow hall. Pretty much all you can eat. I dunno, I’m just talking bullshit now. We got some early mission tomorrow and I should probably rack out. I keep getting chewed out by Sergeant Daniels, my squad leader because I’m late to the truck. I need to stop staying up late and watching these damn shows. Alright man I’ll catch you later.
War enters a person and never leaves. It’s never over for the ones who have to see. War takes away something inside of us that we can never get back, our innocence. Some of us can cope better than others. Some of us are destroyed by it. We don’t fully comprehend what the experience has done to us. Can we truly heal? Can we replace that thing that has been taken away from us? Is it better to forget about healing and find a way to cope with our existence?
We can never get back what we have lost. We can always try to make a life by using what we’ve gained. How do we find meaning through suffering and destruction? We must live on for the ones who have gone and the ones who still remain by our side.
War is never over for those who experience the horrors of it. Welcome home parades or free dinners cannot erase the memories. Compliments cannot remedy the inner conflict we face as we arrive home to a world we don’t know anymore. Through my experiences, I realize I underestimated how quickly things change. Time continues to move with or without you. People don’t stop their lives and wait for you with bated breath.
Continue reading “The Burden”
In a chapel,
An 18 year old ended his soul,
Because dear john ended his love.
The round pierced the morning breeze,
As the desert sand blew beneath the trees.
Before his lips could taste the bitter war,
Blood left his heart and filled the wood planked floor.
Did he ever think “will they hate me?”
Or that his wounded heart would bring him to safety,
From a world where love can hurt and lies are found,
To a place where the sun never sets and beauty abounds.
And if we are brave enough to face this world,
Is our reward the numbers of tears that flood the grave as we’re returned to earth?
In the desert sands,
The sun toils and stands
Between man and plans,
Never judging the land that takes all it can,
A glimmer of hope shown before it ran
Into weary hearts and collapsing hands,
When backs are slicked with salt and tanned,
Of memories of loved ones we may never see again
And time can be a unruly friend,
Turning a timid boy into a conquered man.
No one expects to come back from war broken.
Heroes are not supposed to hurt but we do.
And no Veterans thinks they’ll be forgotten.
Who is war really over for?
Patton once said, “America loves a winner, and will not tolerate a loser, this is why America has never, and will never, lose a war.”
What about the ones that carry that win on their war torn shoulders? When parades, attaboys, BBQs, yellow ribbons are over, who will share in the burden of the true consequences of war? For most of us war doesn’t stop when we finally touch the softer American soil. War never leaves us. It becomes apart of who we are.
We live in a society where the physical consequences of war are seen only through television screens and computer monitors. Digital representations of a reality portrayed as distant and easily dismissed with the sunset.
War doesn’t stop because we stop fighting. We are quick to be called heroes, but forget that heroes can hurt too. What we left in the desert we can never get back. War does not give. War takes. War consumes.
Who is war really over for? Policy makers? News stations? The burden of war is not placed on the ones who send others to war. It is placed squarely on the yet-untorn shoulders of the individuals who are commanded to go.
You call me a hero,
But where is the love after the parades go?
And we have to return and be good heroes,
And forget about the wounds that have been opened by war.
And forget about the checking of exits when we walk into stores.
And become scared of sleep because the nightmares never cease.
And wonder in the darken nights if I’ll we’ll ever be ok.
After the war is over, there’s still a battle,
That no camouflage can hide.
You only mourn for me when I die,
But why not when I’m alive?