The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

I spoke to an unnamed soldier

Whose body I found floating on the river of his tears

We talked of things long gone

 

As he began to open, I dared to open my mouth

And asked if it was just the stress

Or if it was really post-traumatic

 

Or if he could even count how many went down in the desolation

Because I knew that he could 

But he was never provided with a number beyond 32, 1290, 3.76

 

No, he was just one of many

Who could crack, and crumble, and crater

But never were expected to have a crease

 

He was just one of many

Whose late nights but later, knives

Could crease the tightest stretched skin

 

He was just one of many

Who push out breath like fans

But could never suck in if the workload tied tight enough

 

He was just one many 

Who thought they could fly like Peter Pan

For he, too, would always be remembered young

 

But maybe he was different

Because his PTSD wasn’t relieved by PE

Because he pulled those POWs from the pain

 

Yes he was different

Because he watched students bodies dangle in the hallways

When it seemed teachers’ only job was to bring them down

 

He deferred to prevent

Rather than join the growing army 

His arms freed his brothers with an embrace

 

The soldier heard one too many dying breaths

And The soldier felt the breath of an unsure future on his neck, too

 

The soldier saw school walls become butcher stalls 

And The soldier felt those creases in the brain fill with pain

 

Because the soldier wrestled his AR

Into an “Are you Okay?”

His M9

Into a “Mind your Mind”

His message

Was reach out 

 

And the generals, and the teachers

Could mourn, and recover

Yet he would mourn

 

And when the guidance counselor asked:

Have you been bothered by thoughts that you would be better off dead

He responded:

Haven’t you already tried to kill me

 

And when the principal asked:

Why didn’t you tell someone if you knew

He responded

If you walk these trenches, If you carry the burden of a backpack, If you have spoken to the veterans, 

And when your battalion is under attack, and your provisions run low, and it seems like every corner is guarded

Than you know, that there’s always a way to retreat

 

This poem is about: 
Me
My community

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