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Battlefield of the Mind

by Melissa Martin  
11/01/2011 / Poetry


Drafted at age eighteen, a boy-man fresh out of high school
Obsessed with long-legged girls, souped up cars, rock-n-roll.
Like a picnic basket, life laid spread before him
On a red and white checkered tablecloth.

Proudly, the soldier's uniform was adorned after bootcamp,
But the adventure of foreign soil soured like his curdled food rations.
The battlefield of the heart and soul was as bloody at the fall of Saigon.

After the war, a young-old man returned,
One of several hundred walking wounded,
Shell-shocked, battle fatigue, posttraumatic stress disorder,
Cremated memories burnt his psyche,
Ashes of emotion scattered in the windless breeze,
His buddies returned in decorated boxes,
Survivor guilt shredded the American flag,
Normal reactions to abnormal situations,
He climbs into his coffin nightly and tries to sleep.

While men in Washington played God,
He turned off the TV during Desert Storm.
The Iraq war triggers his calcified memories once more.

A disillusioned old man stands in line at the VA hospital
For bottles of multicolored candy that dulls the mind,
He thinks about a new generation of broken soldiers.

Melissa writes about the God and human connection and condition.

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