Silence of the Vets

You wonder why I will not speak
My own sweet mother to
And tell you how it was for me
When I was far from you

The words stick in my aching throat
I cannot make you know
How it felt for your dear boy
To through the mine fields go

Can’t tell you when the snipers took
My buddy, so damn near
His shoulder brushed me as he fell
I shit myself from fear

There isn’t any way to say
The misery I saw
The misery I helped to make
Defender of the law

By using methods so perverse
That they should never legal be
Keeping the enemy at bay
Preserving your reality

The one that thinks good hearted men
Their officers respect
And in return those officers
Never their men neglect

That wiser heads than theirs
Strategic council have conferred
That to dishonor by such men
Death’s instantly preferred

That we return, though beaten up
Full of the confidence
Of having struck a blow for good
In virtue’s sweet defence

But see, Mom, we don’t get to feel
After what we’ve seen
That there was any right or wrong
Side on which we could have been

That cunning, brutal, wild, perverse
Enemy turned out to be
Just ordinary people, quite
A lot like you and me

Just trying to get by in life
Until the soldiers came
And then it didn’t matter which
Nation those soldiers name

You cannot know what it is like
To not a person be
For you have been reduced
To a mere piece of property

And if they order you to go
And detonate that child
Gazing from flimsy shelter
Desperate and wild

That child you will look in the eye
And then you will its life destroy
Then move to the next function
Your superior deploy

In training you think you will calmly
Your best actions pick and choose
But, Mom, that all just melts away
When all hell’s breaking loose

There’s just no way that I will ever
Make it known to you
What weapons in the hands
Of very freaked out men will do

I saw officers taken down
By angry privates’ friendly fire
Saw men who were unpopular
Left injured in the mire

My silence will your shelter be
The knowledge I will keep from you
When some have others helplessly
What horrors they will do

I know I wake you up at night
Screaming from sporadic sleep
I know that this alone suffice
In secret make you weep

And that you long for nothing more
My hidden pain to share
But there’s so much, my mother,
Of which you are unaware

I cannot of what shattered me
Bring myself to tell
‘Twould be such a relief for me —
But shatter you as well

7 thoughts on “Silence of the Vets

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