The veterans gather
in the park.
A Veterans’ Memorial is nearby...
In clusters of three or four,
sitting in the shade, passing the hours...
part of the landscape.
They talk loudly, with references
to which unit they served in,
or something about “when I was in….
Some wear camouflage jackets,
perhaps to remind them
of a time when they had firmer identity.
Listen to their stories,
they offer a clue
to how the nation ended up
with so many homeless veterans.
Stories in how people slip toward instability --
drug and alcohol addiction,
lack of mental health treatment,
lack of job skills,
their own failings.
that slipped them away from society.
But they are still a part of it.