Envisioning Eyes of A Soldier Part 2: Salutations

Another sleepless night, why do I even bother
To try to sleep? The ceiling haunts me
I miss the sight of distant muzzle flashes
I need that night light
Home is where the heart is and I left…
I lost pieces of my heart in that distant land
Every bullet that missed my flesh stole a little of me
Stop, please stop calling me a hero
I am not, the red you see is not a cape
It’s the blood of my brothers
The rotten red hurt that stains my hands
and covers my eyes
They didn’t make it home, I didn’t come back the same
I am not the same
I will never be the same again
I don’t remember what it was like before

Should I be thankful?
I know what real friendship is
Those men, my brothers, were the only ones
Who ever truly had my back
Home is about safety, I don’t feel safe
They gave their lives
Their blood stained and dried upon my hands
Though my hands are clean now, I still see the red
All I can see is red
Did they die so I could make it back alive?
but I don’t want to live without them
They had families, they had rings on their fingers
and all I have is emptiness
My father says he is proud
but it doesn’t feel good
I’m sorry father but it just doesn’t feel right
I’m sorry mother I just don’t feel right
This barrel is cold against my burning skin
and it fits snugly against my temple
My finger slides in the guard and graces the trigger
Just one deep breath and then squeeze
Ready… inhale
Before I can exhale the phone rings
and I can’t ignore the sound

I can feel the tears that are flowing down her face
Like an ocean wave passing through sonically
My ears seem far away as they’re drowned by
The sound of a mother’s sorrow
Her only son, my last brother,
One of the strongest men I’ve ever known…
Oh my brothers, war brought us together
and war destroyed us all

Within the sound of the three-volley
I can’t hold back the tears
and I realize what you have done for me
Even though you’re gone, you still have my back
You’ve always had my back
It wasn’t the phone call that saved me
No it was you
and I wish I could explain it all to your mother
You didn’t take your own life because you’re weak
You’ve always been strong
Not many would be able to understand what it’s like
to feel betrayed by your own mind
Brother, you did the only thing you could
You saved my life again
My brothers I know you’re still looking out for me
and I see now that I am meant to live
There’s no blood on my hands
It’s not my fault that you died
It’s because of you, all of you, that I am alive
and the safety I was longing to have still exists
Your strength and courage and love keeps my heart beating
Brotherhood means everything
and nothing can take it away from me
Nothing and no one can take you away from me
The rifle salute concludes
and I see that honoring all of you doesn’t end
Every breath I take, every step I make can be used to honor you
My life is a tribute to you, my brothers
I am a tribute and I will stand tall

Envisioning Eyes of A Soldier Part 1: Homecoming

The fall of American architecture
Like an arrow shot into my heart
A resounding call beckoned me
Before I knew it, my boots met desert
The images of home kept me safe
I dreamed of seeing the fence
That little faded fence out front
The one my father and I painted every year
Except we didn’t this past year

His smile and the tears in his eyes as I left
I know he was proud and is proud
and that hand shake when I returned
“You look just like your father”
So many said that upon my return
Why couldn’t he tell me before…
If only someone told me the way this would feel

I dreamed and wished and longed to get home
and now I’m here and I don’t want to be
Everyone says hero like I deserve it
If only they knew…
I feel forced to be strong
but I feel so damaged, so wrong, so out of place
The world looks different
Like my eyes have been torn out
and replaced with someone elses
but it’s the brain that registers sights seen
So the truth is my mind has been twisted
All the spent cases, the clashing forces
Lives taken and the reasons seem lost
Were the motivations ever even there?

All the bullshit evaporates when she’s near
I never imagined she could be so strong
A lot can happen in a few months
What an understatement…
Her letters transported me across the planet
Even so far away she kept me safe
and now I’ve been back for 6 weeks
Her bags are packed, she’s walking out the door
She wasn’t strong enough
I pushed her away
With tears in her beautiful eyes she turns back
and I wish I could tell her not to go
I just can’t find the words
She deserves better
and I fear I’ll never get any better

Another doctor and another fistful of prescriptions
Why should I follow their directions
When I already feel numb to everything
I served because I felt had to
No one has to serve me pills
At least taking a bullet makes me feel human
I’m so exhausted from all this dangling
This life I lead beneath this fresh hurt is too tiring

Surrender to Defend

It runs deep
Minds lined with memories
Tortured thoughts
No one should have to
No one should have to
No one should have to
Witnesses to living hell
They laid it all down
Willing to sacrifice EVERYTHING
Their hearts beat to the anthem
The colors reflected in their eyes
For the Red
For the White
For the Blue
For the FUTURE
For their brothers
For their sisters

Whether it be
The desert
The jungle
The trenches
The air
The sea
The blood of heroes stains the same
Bullets rip and tear
Through anything and everything
Don’t have to meet skin
To inflict damage

I don’t know what it’s like
To have my hands soaked
In the blood of a brother in arms
but I am familiar with the torture
A soul darkened

I don’t know what it’s like
To take another man’s life
Another man who is fighting
For the opposing force
But I have met men who
Know it all too well

You don’t have to say a word
I don’t know if I could handle it
Your eyes say everything I need to know
I am sorry
but I am proud
To know you
To have met you
The emotional scars
The invisible wounds
Are only the buttons upon
The jacket of
Your strength of character

The sacrifices do not go unnoticed
If I could meet you all
Shake your hand and say Thank You
I would
I am only able to do the things I do
Cause of your willingness
Cause of your strength
Cause of who you are
I am proud to live in
And call this country home
This Nation built by heroes
The building only stands cause of all of you

I am who I am
Because of a long line of soldiers
I only know what breathing is
Because God allowed my father safe passage
Though I am sure he has wished
It went another way
I will never know the things he went through
I know what dealing with friends dying is like
I can’t imagine dealing with
Watching a friend die

To my father
To all those that heard the call
And answered
You are stronger than I
This is my yellow ribbon
This is my thank you note
This is my civilian salute
I know nothing I can say
Nothing I can write
Will mend a damn thing
I cannot fix anything
I wish I could fill the fissures
Sew up the invisible wounds
Lift the weight
Ease and alleviate it all
but I am unable
And for that I am sorry
It’s out of my hands