From Vietnam Veterans Against the War,

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American Refuge (poem)

By C.F. Harrienger, Jr.

He was born back in '49
An orphan of the storm
Back then when the breath of war
Was all that kept him warm.
His papa he don't know about,
His mom? It's just as well...
It's funny when you come that way
It's like you're spit from hell.
So maybe that's why he sees himself
Like a thief that's on the run
Somehow he has cheated life
Or to him some cheating's done.

Air raid drills! Bomb shelters!
Face the eastern wall...
Teachers lined us up and down
Along some inner hall.
Yea those were the 50's
When fallout drills were fun
Naive to the reality of
Where you gonna run!

"Don't worry 'bout the world, son"
said dad in '63
"But they just killed the President"
(and with him part of me).
The Joplins and the Hendrixs
and the Dylans brought it home
Be careful what you treasure here—
you'll grieve it when it's gone.

The war raged on in Asia now;
A place for him to hide.
A place for indecisiveness
When you're all torn up in side
A place for being angry
A place to vent his hate
A place where you're accepted by
America, the Great.

But all that too soon fell apart
Like water through a sieve
Until it drained his reservoir
And sapped his will to live.
So he killed his "self" with alcohol
And he killed his "self" with drugs
And rearranged his ethics
To co-exist with thugs
And tho they shared his brevity
His innocence was lost
"Grieve if you ever had it,
And all the pain it cost."

So he crawled out of the gutter
To seek the steel of self
And found amidst the clutter
An ore of inner wealth.

No longer encumbered
Like the python sheds his skin
No longer does he fear his fear
And stands to walk again
And in his search for some significance
If equal means the same
He'll thank the world to pass him by
And never know his name.

—C.F. Harrienger, Jr.

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