Editors Blog

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

  19. DanielAri


    Sitting in the back of a Greyhound bus,
    you find out who you are without orders.
    Without family meeting you there to fuss,
    you get dismissed last. At oh dark thirty
    you might sleep, but you can’t, and there’ no rush.

    Two hundred miles to Brookings, forty more
    to Cairn Station, and then you walk a mile
    to the house and whoever you find there,
    strapped for cash, fast asleep and unable
    to meet you, hug you, tell you where to toss

    your reeking, desert-dusted duffel bag.
    You’ll drive to Mcdonalds and then you’ll give
    the orders: Big Mac, Coke, side of Kabul.
    You’ve choppered, jeeped, flown, bussed, walked and driven
    for two all-beef patties in the free world,

    and in the world, water-tight as a sieve.
    gonna have to figure out how to live.

  20. rustydude

    Hero’s Perspective

    My pain seeps
    as sap from the tree,
    If only my limbs
    were there to see;

    My heart aches
    for that hole in the hill,
    Much of me
    lies there still;

    Darkness never fades
    or gives me rest,
    Eyes wide open
    sight fails its test;

    Unable to reach this tear
    weeping to fall,
    What I have given
    feels too small;

    God grant me one wish
    if given the chance,
    Return me to my brothers
    to carry again, freedom’s lance.

  21. Marjory MT

    ….veterans view,
    A soldier’s answer to his mate…

    Yep, that’s my baby.
    Just a month old there.
    Suzy’s six months now,

    She’s our first.
    For years we laughingly told others
    “We’re having fun just practicing”
    Actually, things were just not…….

    Everyone was excited when we
    announced we were having a baby.
    Went shopping, fixed a room,
    Debated girl’s and boy’s names.

    We just never expected that
    I would be called up, shipped out.
    Not be there when she was born.

  22. elishevasmom

    In the Dark

    He was a Marine
    flight mechanic on an
    aircraft carrier in WWII.

    I had a photo of him
    with his dad (in the seabees)
    and his uncle (in the army)

    sharing the day together
    on Guam.
    Other than that

    I could only imagine
    the horror of
    his job.

    The planes land,
    shot up, full of
    the carnage of

    his buddies, as he readies
    the planes to
    go out again.

    After ground was broken
    for the WWII
    memorial he

    told me one broken
    He said that you

    had to walk clear
    of the propeller even
    when the engine

    was off—sometimes
    a burst of energy
    would make the

    prop jump and give
    a little spin. He once
    saw a man who

    walked too close,
    the engine burped
    and spun the prop.

    The guy lost
    his head—just
    like that.

    Ellen Knight

  23. Sally Jadlow

    A WWII Reflection

    I took a European voyage
    on the Queen Mary
    at the request of Uncle Sam.
    Endured, bloody battles, fear,
    and carnage.

    Missed my wife and child
    for many long months.

    At last came home.
    Established a business
    and worked hard.

    Now I see history in repetition
    heading for the same sad end,
    but I’m too old to fight again.

  24. ely the eel

    not new, but I like it, so…


    It is o-dark-thirty and I am flying,
    death surely on its way,
    how quickly nothing else matters.
    It‘s 0230, and I’ve been blown up,
    thinking, this is what it is to die,
    that’s all that’s left to matter.
    There’s no fear, only sadness,
    but not even one thought for me,
    just for the tears of the ones who matter.
    I meet my mother,
    dead for nine-plus years,
    and I am no longer matter.
    She says, go back, you can not stay,
    there’s still work for you,
    you must attend to matters.
    It’s easy now, to understand,
    the work is peace, the goal is peace,
    that’s all that really matters.

  25. Michelle Hed

    What Changes You

    I’ve seen a lot of beautiful things
    in my travels,
    been to a lot of exotic locales
    I never would have ventured to on my own
    but they can’t mask the reasons I was there
    or what I did in the name of my country.

    There are images now indelible,
    Maybe with time, they will fade
    but I know they won’t completely go away,
    I’m not sure I want them too –
    I don’t want to forget.

    You can’t expect to come home unchanged.
    Life has a different meaning now
    and so does death –
    When I meet my maker
    I hope I can look him in the eye
    and see…
    Forgiveness? Acceptance? Compassion?
    Maybe just …peace.

  26. posmic

    A Veteran

    I was a nurse in the Army,
    you know, during the war.
    World War II. It’s easy
    to forget there have been
    other wars, because that’s
    the one I saw with my own
    eyes, the one where I
    sewed up wounds with
    barely enough anesthetic,
    and nothing, nothing at all
    to take the real pain away.

    At night, sometimes, all
    the boys would lie awake,
    raving, still hearing bombs
    even though all was quiet
    then. You don’t know what
    quiet is, or noise, until
    you’ve been the only one
    in her right mind on the ward
    at night, all the doctors
    off somewhere else,

    sleeping, I guess, or else
    forgetting in ways I never
    could. I was allowed to
    give something to help
    those broken boys sleep,
    and sometimes I did,
    when a needle seemed
    kindest. More often,
    though, I sang lullabies,
    asked about mother,
    sweetheart at home,
    patted the place where
    a hand used to be.

    Funny thing is, sometimes
    I could feel the gone hand
    squeezing mine. I still can.

    I still do.

  27. claudsy

    Across a Choppy Sea

    Bering Strait’s charm
    Failed to entice so many
    Who stood to wait for coming
    Orders, for a coming life.

    Troops and more to count,
    Walked aboard for our
    Next forced adventure,
    Onto waves seasick spewed.

    No one told me Hell
    Had arrived; no one I knew
    Had given it another name,
    Had placed it on a map,

    Although I learned quick
    Enough it could freeze over
    And its flames could drip
    My sweat beneath summer’s sun.

    Written from my father’s relayed memories.

  28. Walt Wojtanik


    They leave an impression,
    teaching the lessons of life
    through the dedication to a nation,
    the love of family, God and country.
    The have earned all that they have
    thrust upon them in honor
    and remembrance they are heroic,
    a stoic wall in defense for all.
    Thank you for your service!

  29. Michael Grove

    Fallen Soldier

    Accidents will happen
    when we’re placed in harms way.
    There are no small victories
    had from lives lost for the cause.

    In the land of the free
    we ask ourselves,
    what is a field of crosses?
    A field of mourning,
    or a field of celebration?

    Many of us have returned home
    in a box so that
    those here may enjoy
    the freedom of speech
    and the right
    to peacefully assemble
    amongst other rights and freedoms.
    Yet, we witness injustice everywhere.

    Are we one step closer
    to preserving our freedoms
    as my name
    is engraved upon the wall?
    I heard you thank me
    for my gift of sacrifice.
    Will we ever get it right?

    By Michael Grove

  30. Andrew Kreider

    Thirteen folds

    He would not permit that it touch
    the ground. The Flag. Methodically,
    he gave his orders, calling forth
    a kind of reverence in that dusty hall.

    Fold lengthwise once, twice, he said,
    making sure the stars are facing out.
    Then beginning at the far end from
    the field of blue, take the striped corner

    of the folded edge and fold a triangle
    upwards to the open edge. Turn the
    triangle inwards parallel to the top edge,
    and make another triangle.

    Keep folding triangles, carefully,
    solemnly, eleven times in all,
    until you reach the end and all that
    shows is a perfect three-cornered hat,

    a pillow of stars on a free blue sky.
    We followed every instruction..
    It was as if his life depended on it.
    Maybe ours did too.

  31. bluerabbit47


    I was going
    in this
    so far from
    I would drink
    to check out
    for a while
    or just
    get warm
    they wouldn’t
    let me go
    I was too good
    even on lighter fluid
    I could transcribe
    messages as fast
    as anyone
    could send them.
    Sign off
    The War was
    over sooner
    for me.

  32. Walt Wojtanik


    Tears of love and pride
    flowing, for their glowing example
    and sacrifice, never thinking twice
    to give their lives so the babies of other
    mothers can live free. Honor and glory
    are their story. For all they have given
    we are grateful. Mothers rest your hearts.
    They have gone home!

  33. Walt Wojtanik


    The heat sears into my chest,
    piercing me like a lance driven
    by the force of ferocity. I yell,
    telling anyone who can hear
    that I am here. Arms splayed
    from my sides, looking skyward
    as air support flies over, strafing.
    My breath is labored, gasps of life
    escaping. Crimson wetness
    spreading, draining and staining
    the ground below me. Sounds
    of machine gun and mortar,
    muted and fading, darkness
    invading my sight, staring at no one
    there. I pray for a quick solution.
    I gurgle to God to end my pain,
    but my brain will not allow my heart
    to die for sometime. Light flashes,
    synapses of life gone by. Silence
    engulfs me. Looking down upon
    myself as I lay unattended.
    All my pain is gone. Mercy
    is given to me. I die.

  34. Jane Shlensky

    Sunday Visit at the VA Hospital

    He doesn’t want what the VA offers,
    afraid that he will be the army’s guinea pig
    again, wanting dignity now that
    that ship has sailed.

    He moans and watches the news on TV
    filled with suicide and roadside bombings,
    blurred clips of young men like his grandson,
    running into the unknown, wide-eyed,

    terrified, and armed to the teeth
    with weaponry and idealism.
    He thinks he sees himself there on TV
    and wonders if he’s having visions again.

    Look there, he says, they’re making
    more veterans like us every day,
    but can’t take care of the ones they’ve got.

    He points around him at the remnants
    of men sitting and lying, or leaning
    on walkers or crutches, asleep or wide awake.

    One bomb could keep most of us well cared for
    for years, He pauses and rubs his eyes.
    It’s a sad sad thing, he says,

    that the cheapest piece of equipment
    in any war is a soldier. We lament the loss of a plane,
    but thousands of men can be lost in a day
    and only the widows, mothers, and babies weep.

  35. De Jackson

    For my baby brother, Army Special Forces Sergeant, who heads to parts unknown on Tuesday.


    My boys are 6 months
    and 3 now, and my
    gorgeous wife cut
    her hair again and
    tied a yellow ribbon
    around what was left
    and let me tell you, friend:
    Coming home is
    like breathing.

    But I leave tomorrow.


  36. julie e.


    And I joke about breaking my
    on purpose just to get sent
    and I joke about how much we
    when we were in port and between
    and I joke about the women we met
    when the dark hours come and I
    from bottles hid in the garage and I
    out my gun and I tell my wife and my
    that I could put them in the ground if I
    and I tell them about the
    we had to shoot because the
    had him and we knew what would happen
    they call it
    but me? I just call it

  37. Domino


    The destroy their own buildings
    you know.

    The blow off the roof and
    then destroy the staircases
    in the houses
    so we have to go
    where they want us to go.

    So there we are, like
    rats in a maze
    and they built the maze.
    and we have to search
    inside for survivors,
    waiting for the trap that will
    blow someone’s legs off
    or find the kid who
    turns out to have a rifle.

    One of ‘em, he was just a kid,
    he wounded one of my guys,
    and we shot at him, of course.

    But when he went down,
    I went to help him.
    I couldn’t leave him there.
    And his hand came up,
    and he brushed my hair,
    and he touched my cheek
    and looked at me.

    This was one of the worst moments of my life
    because he was a person,
    fighting for his life.
    And I took it.

  38. Walt Wojtanik


    Fire storm to pock a peaceful morning,
    early dawning and we’re hunkered down.
    The sounds interrupting communication,
    hand signals informing, telling of formations
    and warnings. Enemy fire over the ridge,
    brothers in arms falling, calling in fear
    and pain, and the rain begins. All hope
    hinges on your will and His. This is not
    hell. This is war. Hell comes later.

  39. Bruce Niedt


    I have come back from a dry, rocky hell
    feeling hollow, needing to be filled again.
    I hold my family close. My dog licks my face,

    and I take him with me to the woods,
    down to the brook, where he chases squirrels,
    while I sit on a stump and listen
    to the birds, the gurgling water.

    It all seems new again.

    Moments like this, I am at peace,
    and I feel safe within the walls of home,
    although it’s never far behind me,
    that other fear, the bloody phantom
    that comes leaping at me in my dreams.

    [Once again I used the "Wordle" word bank from The Sunday Whirl blog in conjunction with this prompt. The words were dry, rocky, hollow, wood, brook, birds, new, walls, although, never, phantom, leaping.]

  40. Walt Wojtanik


    Navy Blues adorned a young man,
    his hands rough and calloused,
    but no malice in his heart.
    At the start of his adulthood,
    with nothing but a good love
    of God and country. A sailor
    navigating life’s rough water,
    stem to stern, yearning to give
    all he can so others may live,
    strong in freedom and peace.
    It was the least he could do!

  41. Andy Brackett

    Through Closed Eyes

    Every night I try to sleep
    Through closed eyes
    The nightmares creep
    Flashbacks from years ago
    Bursting bombs and firefights
    Best friends dying
    And Mothers crying
    O’er sons that never came home

  42. Marianv

    In the basement of the VFW
    A place they called the Foxhole canteen
    When the bars c losed at 1 AM the guys
    locked the upstairs doors and retreated
    to the private basement –
    all the young men that fought in WW2
    and some of the older guys from WW1
    They sat around sipping on the drinks
    smoking cigrarets, and someone would
    remember something and so the conversations
    began, details fresh and gory, haunted by the
    loss of friends, wondering why they were spared…

    Some 50 years after the founding of the
    Foxhole Canteen
    It disappeared a long time ago when the place
    was remolded when the young Vietnam Vets moved in
    Once everyone thought eventually it would close
    when all the Vets had passed away.
    Little did they know that a steady supply
    of wars and veterans would continue and
    now no one can see any ending at all.

  43. taylor graham


    He doesn’t talk about it, since he’s home,
    not to us. Mostly he takes long walks in the hills
    with the new dog. In the distance sometimes
    I hear him talking like the dog would understand
    things beyond words. All he says to us, it was
    a war zone. So many dead. Then he puts on his cap
    and jacket, whistles for the dog, and walks out
    the door. Sometimes I hear him call the old dog
    in his sleep. Then at dawn he’ll be out again,
    walking with the new dog. I found a photo from that
    time, him and his old dog, I guess. Just his fatigues
    from the knees down, combat boots, dog lying
    at his feet, its head on his helmet for a pillow,
    fast asleep in war-dreams, or maybe peace.

  44. De Jackson


           You think it’s expensive
                         to fill yours?
                                Here’s what I gave
                                            in mine:
                                       an arm
                                                and a leg,
                                                       and my whole heart.


  45. Glory

    Coming Home
    (Day 11)

    Coming home, a dream
    that faded as I touched the shore,
    strolled among green fields,
    sat by the glowing fire,
    took my children by their hand,

    and when I kissed my wife
    I found a stranger
    not the dream I’d held so close
    when coming home,
    no, one that faded when
    I touched the shore.

  46. shellaysm

    “A Soldier Deploys” (Rispetto poem)
    prepared to make a difference nation-wide
    poised to secure others a safe tomorrow
    offer selfless service in honor and pride
    find my way ending terrorism’s sorrow
    yet hesitant within such uncertainty
    wondering what my own tomorrow will be
    holding close, for now, those whom I love so dear
    knowing that the risk is stronger than my fear

  47. Connie Peters

    A Brave Stand

    I learned to shoot when I was eight,
    Providing food to fill each plate.
    I’d roam the forest covered hills.
    To hunt and fish would give me thrills.

    When I was only twenty-one
    I joined the army with my gun.
    My friend who was most brother-like
    Was killed before my very eyes.

    And only some short days had passed,
    It grieved my heart, but alas
    My own dear brother died in France.
    I knew I didn’t live by chance.

    With firm resolve I fought and stood
    For folks back home, the right and good,
    Enduring war and bitter strife
    In hopes we’d win a better life.

    I went back home with purple heart,
    So glad to have a chance to start
    A family of a wife and girls.
    To me they meant the whole great world.

    In the steel mill I worked hard for
    What I fought hard for in the war,
    For those I love, my lovely wife
    For right and good, and better life.

  48. JW Laviguer

    Fathers Brothers Sons

    The sirens rang again last night
    it seems they’re increasing
    in their frequency

    We lost another the day before
    his plane went down
    while providing ground cover

    A helicopter full of soldiers
    a young man in a humvee
    a three person bomb squad

    We all serve
    some give their lives
    because these colors don’t run

  49. RJ Clarken

    Veterans Dine Free on Veteran’s Day

    I’m sitting in an Applebee’s.
    My waiter says, “Sarge, if you please,
    what is your choice for drink or fare?”
    I shift my weight some in my chair.

    My waiter, he is miles away
    from sand and bombs and foreign fray.
    This server says, “Our whole staff cares.”
    I shift my weight some in my chair.

    If you’re not there, you cannot know
    that serving isn’t just for show.
    And yet the truth is hard to bear.
    I shift my weight some in my chair.

    My waiter says, “There is no charge
    for veterans.” He adds, “Thanks, Sarge.”
    I glance down at my legs (not there)
    and shift my weight some in my chair.


  50. pmwanken

    I also will be back to write a new one for this prompt, but in the meantime, I’ll share one I wrote this summer.


    gone are my days
    of hopscotch, hide-n-seek,
    and colored streamers
    on bike handles;
    shadows shifting in shape,
    as days blend one into the next,
    with the only purpose
    of providing a backdrop
    for navigating through
    unencumbered time

    now my days are filled
    with hopping from planes,
    seeking out the enemy,
    and wearing our colors
    on my shoulder while I stand watch,
    as days blend one into the next,
    with the purpose
    of preserving freedom
    for my kids and their
    unencumbered time

  51. Maurie

    No words

    She asks the question,
    as I hold her too tight.
    She asks the question,
    in the dark, in the night.
    Thinking I’d speak
    freely now
    legs entwined
    hearts beating as one
    heads bone to bone.
    She repeats her question
    as I hold her tight.
    Wanting to be a part
    of my world
    to join our memories
    willing me back into
    She repeats the question
    in the dark, in the night
    “Over there, what was
    it like?”

  52. viv

    Off prompt today, for the first time this challenge. I’ve written many poems on this theme and don’t want to write another – they make me too sad and often angry as well!

    In Defiance of modern mores

    Much published poetry these days
    makes little sense
    which explains why it is so difficult
    to find an editor who likes mine:
    straightforward and credible as it is.

    Skill with rhyme and metre
    can be decried as trite.
    Puns and other wordplay
    are cast aside as childish.

    But ask your average person
    what kind of poem he likes,
    he’ll tell you none, unless it rhymes
    or swings along like music,
    but, above all, it must make sense.

  53. DAHutchison

    The Stranger

    Jonsey saw me through the window,
    Barked wildly and woke the neighbors,
    I knocked on my own door like a stranger,
    In seconds opened, a flurry of arms opened,
    Jason is twelve. Almost shaving and I hope,
    He’ll just stay young for a while.
    Look up to me, but not right there in my footsteps.
    Hope fades a little as I see Black-Ops,
    Paused on a television I don’t recognize.
    My son, time will tell if the blood shed,
    Set the globe right, put a better spin on its axis,
    But it took me off mine and though I may,
    Any day, stop gunning it through intersections,
    The ground truth will stay with me. Leave me rigid.
    It will never be a grand adventure?

  54. Walt Wojtanik


    I watch victory’s sun arise
    over Normandy skies,
    here where I and many other
    sons lay, markers on display.
    Faceless names are we
    in a sea of marble and granite
    reaching to touch the face
    of God and the hearts of
    a nation not understanding
    the price we’ve paid day
    after day. A return to sleep
    keeping memories alive
    in the shadow of victory’s sun.

    1. Misky

      I’ve been to the War Memorial in Normandy, and it’s not a sad place at all. Quiet, solemn and respectful, yes, but not at all sad. There’s a very interesting serenity about the place.

  55. Marie Elena

    I wrote this a couple of years ago. Will write another more suitable to the prompt later.


    Buried alive in his foxhole
    by the grenade that struck
    too close,
    yet just far enough;
    he was hidden from enemy troops.
    Though he lived to tell the story,
    details were buried with him.

    1. Misky

      They never wanted to talk about their time during the war, whether to protect us or to just forget I’m not sure. I never pushed, as my dad never pushed me for details I wanted to forget.

  56. Misky

    Dad’s Shrapnel

    One day as I tweezed another
    shiny shape of shrapnel
    from his back, these little
    bits of metallic confetti
    that poured down on him

    some forty-years before,
    shimmering hot showers as his
    ship exploded and blew
    everyone standing nearby
    clear off the ship’s deck, anyway …

    I asked him what did you do
    during the war, Dad. He said
    that he learned to throw up over
    the side of the ship without
    falling overboard.

    I removed another shiny
    spectre, and dropped it
    into the bathroom sink.
    “Seasick?” I asked.
    “No,” he replied, “…just sick.”

  57. The Wired Journal

    A Sailor of WWII once told me
    I’ve always believed
    That nothing is ever
    Truly learned or understood
    Until it is first experienced
    An old sailor once told me
    The most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen
    was looking up at that beautiful scene
    when our ship steamed under
    that beautiful Golden Gate Bridge