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THE VETERAN

Page 18
Download PDF of this full issue: v48n2.pdf (20 MB)

<< 17. Oleo Strut19. Back in the Day >>

Each and Every Day, A Soldier's Lament (poem)

By David Sandgrund

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What can I say?

How can I put it into words,

proper words,

its urgency?

its mind-branding enormity?


My best friend - a bond forged in incoming fire

and very literally tempered in the blood of those better than I.

He kept me alive, I kept him out of cells.

He thinks he owes me. I know he's wrong.

He's the best man I know.

Old now, growing older at an increasing rate.


But alive, mostly.


Seven of them there were,

in a place nobody should ever,

ever have had to go,

Such was their innocence that

those grey-eyed professionals

didn't think twice beforehand.

And they got the job done, so that's something, I guess.


The scenes we are occasionally called on to wade into

are things no man - or woman -

with any humanity can take home to those they love.

we love them and we know that nobody should open

the curtains on some things.


So you push it down,

pretend to yourself that you're tough enough

to carry it all another mile.

There's really no other option, is there?

Not one you wish to contemplate.

And it doesn't even matter what the mission was.

That's the saddest thing about it.


Seven of us forty odd years ago.

Since then,

three suicides,

one's fallen off the face of the earth,

A sixth lies mindless in a hospital ward following

a suspected drug overdose

(he didn't leave notes)

and my friend, gentle citizen.


the last US troops left Vietnam

almost half, a memory-clad, slow-march, century ago

still today veterans are committing suicide every day.


Five deaths in the stillness of your sleep

before you slap your bedside alarm for its impudence.

The last sip of your breakfast coffee

commemorates another name's ink drying on the list.

When you finally get to work, add another -

and two more by coffee break,

another by lunch.


When you finally go to sleep in your own soft bed,

so many soldiers will have died by their own hands

and more before the day itself is finally permitted to die.


And tomorrow's another day.


—David Sandgrund


<< 17. Oleo Strut19. Back in the Day >>



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