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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Precipice

1998-1999 were pretty tough times. It was during this time frame that I lost my son, Nathaniel, who for all intents and purposes was essentially kidnapped by his mother with the assistance, no less, of my father. For a time–a rather long time, I have to admit–I couldn’t really focus much on anything at all. A deep depression sat in and every child I saw reminded me of him and his bedroom, still full of his toys, clothes, bed and other belongings, was often a place in which I would simply sit and despair.

1998-1999 were pretty tough times. It was during this time frame that I lost my son, Nathaniel, who for all intents and purposes was essentially kidnapped by his mother with the assistance, no less, of my father. For a time–a rather long time, I have to admit–I couldn’t really focus much on anything at all. A deep depression sat in and every child I saw reminded me of him. His bedroom, still full of his toys, clothes, bed and other belongings, was often a place in which I would simply sit and despair.

More than once I considered making it my own ending space, but there is something inside that would always rage, “No, that path is for the cowardly and the weak. I am better than that; I will hold on“. And so I did–1,000 miles away. That scenario bore in me a kind of fear specific to family, and at that stage it seemed to me that those who had worked hardest to hurt me the most were unequivocally my family, especially my father. It was in large part that fear that has for years lead me to keep the remainder of my family at arm’s length, though I must say that most of the rest of them certainly did not deserve that.

I’m not exactly sure where this piece fits into that history, but I think that this was written somewhere around the time my world began to crumble, and I felt myself at a tipping point where nothing seemed clear and no future seemed certain.

Precipice

 

Standing Alone

Upon the Edge of Eternity

Seeing Below

All the Dreams inside of me

 

Like ants so far away

All I love’s scurrying free

In the emptiness of space

An infinity you cannot see

 

I want to fall into this dream

To swim within this sea

To hold my loves inside my grasp

And live my life freely

 

I’m standing on a precipice

Above the world below

Desperately wanting to embrace you

But how to get there I don’t know

 

Which way will I fall?

I can’t see the light

The precipice is crumbling now

And I sure could use my sight.

 

12-13-1998

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