Veteran

This poem was written as an entry for a writing contest at Santiago Canyon College, where I’m currently taking classes primarily in literature and philosophy. As I post this, I was just informed a few hours ago that this poem–written in about 30 minutes–has won first place in the poetry category of the contest! –Jason

Veteran

Blackened eye shines from faux-smiling face
Prepared happiness glowers into empty space
Tiny lies whispered, eyes gleam to hide the truth
First lesson learned in youth

For he is mighty, brave and tough
Weathered rage, his love—enough!
His broken bones, scarred flesh deserve the furor
Weak child-flesh of mine must be his mirror

What knuckles rapped o’er bruised cheek
Deserved, surely, for I am weak
Cowering ‘neath the arms of bloodied mom
Who knows not the horrors of Vietnam

How dare complain o’er his harsh embrace
His love revealed upon my ribs, back and face
Great sacrifice for which we pay
A price of fear, night and day

Oh brave and noble father
Purifying terror is no bother
Wake me, daddy, when the swelling’s done
Revisit battle upon your son

Thank you for the wars you’ve known
For bringing each and every one home
Showing me I can’t deserve
Your love, for I, but six, have yet to serve.

Your harsh caresses may bruise the flesh
Thanks to you, I fear not death
Eyes alight with rage fill me with dread
As I tremble ‘neath my broken bed
Afraid of you, I’ll hold my breath

Always.

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