From Vietnam Veterans Against the War,

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Prisoner of War (poem)

By rg cantalupo

The night terrors ended—one night, or
maybe over many nights—bleeding out

till there was nothing left but fragments
like the shrapnel that kept rising to the

surface of my skin. Even the names—Lonny,
Devil, Spike, Lee—faded into echoes, and

then were gone. I pressed them onto rice
paper at The Wall once, and put them between

the pages of a book like dead flowers, but
they're gone too, lost, along with the book,

sometime during the days when I kept moving
to forget where I'd been. Fifty years, and all

that's left to haunt me are these useless
medals I've kept. I found them in a box

with some old photographs—Janice, my
sixteen-year-old wife, in a wedding dress,

me, in my Advanced-Infantry-Training
graduation greens, and these dog tags

I hold—name, rank, and serial number—
as if there were always another self,

a prisoner of war living inside my closet
waiting, ever waiting to be freed.

—rg cantalupo

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