I want to share a poem I'm still working on. I started this last year on Memorial Day and have just been trimming words and clarifying images from that first draft. I won't say what I think it needs; I'm open to other suggestions.
Some Living Veterans are Taking Part
Some living veterans are falling apart at the gums as rotted teeth separate from blackened tissue and oops the VA nurse radiated the wrong side. I can’t chew. Can’t swallow.
There are many voices in my head. Flashes of fire and rubble that I wrap in layers of silence. A pack only I will carry. A burden that knots my muscles and scabs me over. Callouses. Layer upon flat layer of skin that will only add to my weight. I remember the way Roscoe leaped over latrine holes making it back from the whorehouse before curfew. His arms and legs spread like . . .
The way my life is really two lives, ten, twenty, a battalion, a division, a nation.
Ruthie, so young, pressed the permanent crease out of my trousers. Medallions, ties, hats. Everything measured and its place. Appearing.
Coins from other countries. Play pirate maps. Photos of me with men my family will never know.
I mowed the lawn with a beer in my hand, bought my daughter braces, took up assembly work and payment plans. These have been the spoils of war.