2012 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 11

Today’s prompt comes from Rob Halpin.

Here’s Rob’s prompt: Write a veteran poem, but instead of just a poem on what Veteran’s Day is about or thanking veterans, write from the veteran’s perspective:  how they felt moving around the world, what it was like being deployed to a combat zone, what they thought of the support (or lack thereof), or what they’ve found since getting back or out of the service.

Here’s Robert’s attempt at a Veteran Poem:

“Back Home”

Everything is the same
in some ways, but nothing
is the same as I left it.

This girl who nurses me now
used to get in jealous fights
over me. My son couldn’t say

my name but now holds the door
open for me. Calls me, “Sir,”
and I just to tell him I made

the right choice as I teach
him to pass ball in the yard,
but I can’t find the words.


Thank you, Rob, for today’s prompt. Click here to learn more about Rob.

If you prefer using the WD Forum, click here for the Day 11 thread.


Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer


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115 thoughts on “2012 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 11

  1. Karen H. Phillips

    Day 11
    Prompt: Veteran’s viewpoint

    Anzio was a tough battle.
    My neighbor’s dad was captured there by Germans.
    He was a POW 18 months.
    I was lucky. My unit came out unscathed, and while in Europe, I managed to see a
    bit of a different world.
    What we did wasn’t heroic.
    We did our duty, fought to protect freedom, country, family.
    I sit in the dark den with the TV on and recall the war and think of my wife,
    gone these three years, taken by Alzheimer’s.
    God spared me in the war, spared me through by-pass surgery,
    but I miss my wife.
    Still, I can walk the neighborhood in my 80’s, drive my pickup, and mow my own
    Life is good,
    and God’s been good to me.

  2. foodpoet

    Don’t look away.

    Don’t look away
    Only to tell me
    No jobs today.
    Today I left military behind.

    Looking ahead
    Only to find closed eyes
    Only to find closed doors.
    Keep faith.

    We served,
    Again and again,
    Yet you still look away.

  3. Miss R.

    A Veteran’s Request

    It warms my old heart
    A bit
    To know that you’re
    And that you bought
    A poppy
    For once this year,
    But I think
    Perhaps I’d rather
    Have you talk to me.

  4. po

    Africa in WWII

    The whole time I was in Africa
    I had a migraine. After two weeks
    the doctor said to drink gallons
    of coffee. It helped.

    One night the Arabs drifted through
    camp to see what we had. I kept
    my eyes slit because we were told
    if they drew their saber they couldn’t

    replace it until they drew blood. They
    left as quietly as they came—ghosts
    into the night.

  5. JRSimmang

    “You’re a stemaing pile of
    That’s what he told me one day.
    I can’t blame him,
    he’s the product of shit himself,
    at least that what he wanted us to believe.
    This man,
    this single tower of a man,
    never left the base.

    He told us his story
    when he was there in the white linen,
    his body a garden,
    while the sun slowly and eventually
    kissed below the horizon
    and left for good.
    He spent the first part of his life
    a missionary,
    abroad on some sinking ship
    aboard some stringy desitny.
    He said he met a girl in every port.
    He never said more than that.
    He was there,
    in the thick of it all,
    when the bombs began dropping.
    He was there
    when the bodies of his brothers
    were scattered like
    bird seed.
    He said
    he would never go back again.
    But, he did.
    He did again, and again, and again,
    as if he had something to prove.

    He got too old to carry his burden by himself,
    so they tied him up to the
    shackled and noosed.
    But, it was a death he wanted.
    It was a death full of glory.
    It was a death worthy of a man
    who gave himself
    so others could
    pick up a spoon and watch TV and
    never worry about whether or not their
    simple little lives
    would wind up in the back room of some subterranian
    He is to thank for this.
    So, I take it.
    I take it while he yells at me because
    I need something to kick my ass.

  6. Terri French


    Not so different from the fox hole,
    this cardboard hut beneath the overpass;
    But the sound of traffic overhead is soothing
    compared to the bombs that still echo
    in my dreams.

    A man comes by once a week
    with his bible and some prayers,
    and once he brought a blanket
    and a hot thermos of soup.

    I accepted his prayers
    and the blanket served
    my cat and me well
    on cold nights
    when my feet went numb.

    Numbness was preferred to the blisters
    I had from hours of trudging
    through snake filled swamps in ‘Nam.

    And the soup runs warm
    down my throat, but
    doesn’t warm my belly
    quite like Mad Dog

    or Wild Turkey.

    Those verses he recites
    just run around in my head–
    He tells me Jesus is my friend,
    but Jesus wasn’t the friend
    I held bloody in my arms
    with his chest laid wide open
    muttering for his mama
    til his lips went still.


    That man keeps comin’ back
    once a week like clockwork;
    Once I ask him to bring
    a pack a smokes and he does.

    He asks if I have family
    and I open up the shoebox
    full of yellowed snapshots–
    My mama and daddy long gone
    and my Melanie and the baby.

    “Where are your wife and child?”
    he asks me;
    I tell him I don’t know anymore;
    I tell him I haven’t ever opened my
    box for anyone but him,
    and my whole body starts to shake.

    The man puts his arm around my shoulder
    and tells me about the time Jesus
    felt forsaken by his own Father;
    “Son”, he says,” this country has forsaken you,”
    Then the man starts to cry
    and tells me he’s sorry.

    I tell him it’s ok
    me ‘n Dave, my cat,
    (I named him after my dead buddy),
    are doin’ just fine and I light up a smoke;
    The man asks for one too
    and I say sure;
    Then the two of us sit under
    the overpass smoking,
    the soothing sound of traffic overhead.

  7. tunesmiff

    (c) 2012 – G. Smith
    I shipped out at eighteen,
    To some place far away,
    Greeted in a foreign land,
    On a day much like today,
    By unending hours of boredom,
    Unending seconds of fear,
    Unending bonds of friendship,
    And that’s what brought me here.

    I’m a veteran, not a victim;
    It wasn’t chance, it was my choice
    I’m a veteran, not a victim,
    Ignore my medals, hear my voice.

    I stayed on at twenty-four,
    With new stripes on my sleeve;
    Spent a little time at home,
    Before I had to leave.
    Back again to where I’d been,
    You do what you do best,
    Some R-and-R now and again,
    To get a little rest.

    I’m a veteran, not a victim,
    It wasn’t chance, it was my choice.
    I’m a veteran, not a victim;
    Ignore my medals, hear my voice.

    I’m proud of the service I’ve given;
    It’s been a good life and more than a living.

    I’m a veteran, not a victim;
    It wasn’t chance, it was my choice.
    I’m a veteran, not a victim;
    Ignore my medals, hear my voice.
    Ignore the scars.
    Hear my voice.

  8. Yolee


    The only good thing about war is your letters. In them, I taste the kumquats we fell in love
    with on our trip to Japan. I feel your scarf tease my face with its elusive forefingers when we
    drove to Tin Mountain and hiked up, up,up. I can even let us in the double wooden doors
    of our church most Sunday mornings when light of day hits you between the eyes.
    I forget about death and dying.
    Sorry I’m not more cheerful.
    Write me and I promise to stay alive to read and respond.


  9. Linda Rhinehart Neas

    Veteran’s of Foreign Wars

    Cast upon the shores of lands far from home,
    you grasped at the slightest reminder of those
    you left behind. Sometimes, comfort came in
    split second moments – a smile, some food shared,
    a song, a bit of cloth – it didn’t take much
    to remind you of why you were doing a job
    few would choose to do so far from those who cherished you.

    Today, as we remember you and all those who served,
    I give up a prayer of thanks for those in foreign lands
    that gave from the little they had, that reached out a hand,
    hummed a melody, or offered a place to rest.
    Because of them, home was never too far from your thoughts –
    Because of them, you came back to those you loved with
    stories to tell and a melancholy twinkle in your eyes.

  10. sonja j

    About Alex

    They never knew what to do with the boy.
    They hassled him about his grades, indulged
    his paintball fantasies, talked the principal
    into giving him another chance after the
    smoking incident. Once he graduated, no
    college would have him, and he managed
    to derail every job interview they sent him
    to. “Really,” his father asked, “how could you
    fail to get hired at Subway?”

    So that’s what it was coming to – the Army
    or jail, when he eventually got caught with
    too much weed on him. The military, they said,
    would give him the discipline he needed. The
    recruiter assured them that he would come out
    with self-respect and valuable job skills. He
    signed, because what else was there to do?

    It was such a relief to be military parents. They
    worried, from afar, through basic training, proudly
    attending when he completed it. When he was
    sent to Afghanistan, they got their friends to send
    care packages with supplies for the local children.
    He would come home on leave, quiet, but not in
    the sullen way he used to be. They took him out
    to breakfast, invited his friends over for a party.
    This was all going to work out.

    Now he’s been discharged, and nobody knows
    what he should do, least of all Alex. He hasn’t
    found work, because employers can’t quite
    understand what he is qualified for, and they
    have this niggling doubt that he will lose his
    temper and pull a gun at the jobsite. Maybe
    it has something to do with the way he carries
    himself, just a little distant, as though he were
    somehow better than everyone else. At home,
    he’s frustrated, saying that he can do any job,
    they just have to tell him exactly what is expected.

  11. Sara McNulty

    Poetic Asides November Challenge – Day 11
    Write a veteran’s poem from their perspective

    Leaving (shadorma)

    We were finally
    going home.
    My buddies
    asked for phone number, address.
    `No, the war’s over,’

    I said, `I don’t want
    to ever
    look backward’.
    Mom never knew where I was,
    Korea, she thought.

    While flying back home,
    aware of
    country’s mood,
    I changed out of uniform
    to avoid their scorn.

  12. Benjamin Thomas

    Marital Battlegrounds

    I never thought I’d feel comfortable in a combat zone. That’s strange.
    More so than at home anyway.
    At least here, I don’t have to fight with her.
    Handling Insurgents is not so bad. This I can actually cope with.
    Just thinking of it, I wonder when I’ll be deployed back home
    to see her, on the real battlegrounds.

  13. uneven steven

    Soldier mom

    What country would do that?
    Must be guerrilla warfare,
    mother’s throwing themselves
    in front of the enemy
    to protect
    their children.
    Mother’s shouldn’t be soldiers
    every instinct in me
    swears –
    2 and 4 year olds
    left at the airport
    in hesitant
    grandparent arms –
    the National
    for 1 weekend a month,
    money for school,
    protect your country
    from invading forces
    and natural disasters,
    political disasters
    a fine line in the
    It’s poor country and urban kids
    needing a little extra help
    getting to serve
    their country,
    mothers and fathers
    both called up
    at the same time
    and shipped to Iraq,
    and we all must learn
    to do our duty,
    sacrifices must be made,
    even grandma’s
    much too old
    to raise their daughter’s

  14. Eleanore D. Trupkiewicz


    Somehow, it doesn’t seem to matter
    that I have this amassed collection
    of ribbon shreds and polished medals
    —no one defines me by what I
    accomplished with the Corps. No one
    asks to see me wearing my dress
    blues these days; I wouldn’t be able
    to fasten anything, anyway, and no
    one offers to help anymore. I can’t
    always remember what to do with
    simple things—fork, pencil, comb,
    all resting in my hand, waiting for me
    to get my act together and eat or
    write or make myself presentable, as
    best I can, which isn’t wonderful,
    these days. They call me a wounded
    warrior, and that alone is what
    distinguishes me from everyone else,
    all the whole people, these days.

  15. MeenaRose

    Finally Home
    By: Meena Rose

    Most of me made it;
    My legs were not so lucky
    And neither was my right eye –
    Still I am returning home.

    I take in a deep ragged breath;
    What will they think of their
    Golden son reduced to being a
    Ghoulish sight.

    As I wheel myself out, my
    Breath catches as Mom
    Lets out a whimper fighting
    Hard not to let her face

    Crumble and Dad standing so
    Still, a lone tear slides
    Down his cheek as he wraps
    His arms around Mom lending

    Her his strength. Chelsea,
    She took off in tears;
    I wonder if she’ll ever come
    Back. I am not sure I would

    If it were me. I choke down
    My sob and watch them; who else
    Will turn their back on me?
    The dreariness is broken

    As Charlie explodes on the
    Scene screaming “Welcome Home!”
    As he leaped into my lap. I
    Held on to that little rascal

    Taking in the sight of his
    Sun kissed skin and finger nails
    That had just played in the dirt;
    He looked at me and those bright

    Blue eyes clouded with concern
    “Uncle Scott, is my Papa coming
    Home too?” I ruffled his hair
    And looked away for who was I

    To tell him “No Charlie, your
    Papa fought hard and died a
    Brave brave man while he was
    Busy saving me.”

  16. Nancy Posey

    Coming Home from ‘Nam
    (for Glen)

    Over there we were boys playing men,
    trying not to lose ourselves before
    we ever found ourselves, shipped out
    to this land of jungles, mountains,
    choppers to a Rolling Stones soundtrack
    instead of Glenn Miller, “Over There.”

    With no control over going home alive
    or broken to pieces, I focused inward,
    trying not to get lost in the purple haze
    or agent orange. Living for mail call,
    I must admit I laughed—a bitter laugh,
    sure—when I read what she wrote:
    I think we need to see other people.

    What other people? Everywhere, I saw
    people—the enemies and allies all looked
    alike to me; these buddies I depended on,
    who daily trusted me with their lives
    would forget me the minute I shipped
    home—dead or alive. I waited her out.

    And when my time came, I sent word
    when I’ve be arriving stateside, praying
    she’d be in the backseat of Daddy’s car,
    letting Mama sit up front. But nobody
    met me when I walked off the plane,
    and a collect call confirm the mix-up—
    the time change, Daddy kept repeating
    into the phone, Mama wailing behind him.

    So I sat there on a bench outside the airport,
    duffle bag at my feet, staring at the clock,
    too far past self-pity to play that game,
    making bets when they’d arrive and if
    she’d be there with them. And she was.
    Reader, I married her.

  17. seingraham


    They come here, can you believe it
    After all the bad feeling, all the lies
    It seems many of us didn’t die for nothing
    And that artist or architect, I forget who
    Just now – they made fun of her for this
    A long uninterrupted wall of names –
    Said nobody would be bothered coming
    To look at this, would walk all the way in
    Then hunt through all the names just to find
    Their loved one’s or friend’s or whomever
    But the naysayers hadn’t counted
    On the determination of the surviving vets
    And some of those families walking so long
    In a darkness hard to fathom; they come here

    And today, my daughter brought my grandchildren
    And the guides helped her find my name and
    They came to where it is pretty easily reached
    And they all spent a long time running their hands
    And fingers back and forth over the letters of my name
    I cannot explain the thrill of being touched like that
    Even in death, to be read as if blind and they,
    Knowing Braille, were deciphering so much
    Of what happened just by doing that one thing

    For a wall that caused so much controversy
    Just by its shape, size, and location, when first it was being
    Planned, it thrills me no end that it has been
    Adopted as more of a shrine than anything else
    Yessir, right after it opened, a vet from California
    Saw it as a place of healing and wanted to make
    It accessible for vets and families right across
    The country, so he created “a moving wall”
    A transportable version of the wall so it could be taken
    To vets that couldn’t come to the permanent
    Installation – so many good things have grown
    Out of this wall – it’s sometimes hard to remember
    The really bad times that went along with that war
    And I am truly grateful for that …

    For more information about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and other memorials that have evolved because of this one, here is a link:

  18. Ber

    Daddys Gone
    She walked up to him brushed her hand along his arm
    leaned over and whispered in his ear
    your the one for me dear
    I want you to stay close
    I want you to stay near

    He gave her a loving stare back
    he told her that every little thing she does
    Makes his world exciting and new
    As she flicked her hair across her neck

    She couldnt take her eyes off of him
    There was the love of her life stairing at her with a smile a silly grin
    As silence broke the moment as if caught up in time
    He knew someday he would marry her
    And all in life would be fine

    This moment they didnt take for granted
    They made the most of what they had
    Before he was to go and fight for his country
    Her freedom and that of the unborn childs dad

    Little did they know of this
    only time would tell of this tale
    When he was at war
    she was gone to far
    The child would be born before then

    As she sent off letters to him to tell him of his child
    a telegram came to silence her
    The news was bad inside
    She held her baby near and whispered in his ear

    Your daddys gone been killed by a bomb
    What will we do now
    Oh what can be done
    Dear baby you are your daddys son

    A picture was all she had left
    She pinned it to the babies cot
    As tears trickled down her face
    She remembered their first dating place

    As she walked up to him brushed her hand along his arm
    As he leaned over and whispered in his ear
    His words to her your the one for me dear
    I want you to stay close
    I want you to stay near


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