Sunday, September 13, 2009

Looking Back

He lives with his wife in a trailer
beside a highway to the national cemetery.
He decided it was a good place
to build a monument to soldiers.
He nailed a sign to a maple tree
that listed every war.
Around the tree he arranged flags,
a headstone, combat boots and,
a helmet resting on a rifle
planted barrel-first in the soil.
Long white hair, a mustache
and pale blue eyes.
He sat in soft chair,
covered with a military flag,
where he retreats every night.
Many relatives served in the military.
That's just the way it is.
He enlisted in the Army at 17
and soon found himself in Vietnam.
He wanted to make a career of the military,
but Vietnam did him in.
It's not what he saw in Vietnam that haunts him;
it's that he can't stop seeing it.
On full disability
he has received counseling
for the last 20 years.
He still can't sleep
and ends up on the chair.
If anyone asked him
what happened over there,
he had a one-word reply...
We lost the war.
And it still hurts, man.
"It still hurts."

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