The Returning Soldier

soldier

The Returning Soldier

Many a time we face the battle of life like untried soldiers. And, like untried soldiers we are never fully prepared for the sometimes-dramatic consequences of warfare. Then when we confront life’s amoral demands for conformism we become stunned like deer caught in the headlights.soldiers-

But having taken institutional vows we feel we are under moral obligation to act the part to keep up appearances. Oftentimes this may come at a cost. It may come at the cost of a slow and painful death of core values, of dreams and of self.

Yes, we kill off our dreams and other aspects of self for appearances because we are mindful of the oath taken.

wounded soldier 2

At times as returning and rebounding soldiers we are so broken that it is quite challenging – near impossible to make the psychosocial adjustments required. Yet we soldiers return to wherever home is, to face ridicule after having sacrificed a part of ourselves for that which was judged as valuable, or for some other – perceived greater good. So, did I.

This short exposition is hopefully a guide to the understanding of the poem “The Returning Soldier” which follows:                     

The Returning Soldier

Soldier, did you kill a man?   

 How did it feel?                                                                                                                 

Woman, did you leave your man?                                                                                        

How did it feel?

This woman did kill a man—

Soldier, did you kill a man?

How did it feel?

Woman, did you leave your man?

How did it feel?

This woman did kill a man—

not that man, this inner man, in partial suicides,

in sneaky, slow dyings

with the technology of sharp-shooting inner snipers

configured by the Cain of conservatism.

She was a terrorist against herself,

blowing body parts to bits,

soul and blood raining down upon a tortured landscape

to join those of Abel in post-Edenic torpor.

Be a self-preserving surgeon like this woman.

Amputate the amalgam of selves that anesthetizes

and forces you to choose another’s interest over your own.

But don’t you dare sit in your sterile towers

and politicize and sensationalize her cracks at survival.

 

The Returning Soldier is taken from my book Splendor from Ashes

Brenda fixed my book cover

 

 

 

16 thoughts on “The Returning Soldier

  1. This hits so close to home for me. I was raised by a solider. The best mom ever. She provided therapy for returning soldiers after the Gulf War. Soldiers are so strong and brave, but so under valued. Thanks for writing this so some people can gain understanding of the life a solider lives. Much Love!

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  2. My dad served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. He was a dentist and didn’t see combat but he did work in the hospitals and has told us so many stories about what he and his fellow soliders endured.

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  3. I can only imagine how hard the transition must be from leaving a band of “brother/sisterhood” or togetherness to being in your home space. Most people are walking in their own shoes and thinking of their own thoughts and after having to go out each day to do nothing but protect others, this adjustment has to be a difficult one. We need to do more to acclimate soldiers once they are leaving the force and returning home. Period.

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  4. Soldiers experienced so much pain rather than us like living their loved ones is not easy without an assurance that they will be coming back.

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