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Vets Know

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Below is the poem entitled Vets Know which was written by poet Odin Roark. Please feel free to comment on this poem. However, please remember, PoetrySoup is a place of encouragement and growth.

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Poet's Notes

As Veteran's Day arrives, a montage of prosetry-thought honoring their sacrifice.

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Vets Know

Vets Know
                  by Odin Roark

(Via Refrigerator Magnets)

Should have told you

I’m sorry
I’ve buttered
the last piece
the heel
you never eat

Can you forgive me?

I toasted it
like you used to do
like you used to make
for me

I can’t be back for a while

I’m Here
(Via Email)

Nobody Told Me

They say ‘cause I’m alive and healthy
I’m supposed to grieve in stages
A bit presumptuous, eh?
Just how is this insight acquired?

Just maybe
If they’d outlined the steps
Both of my bereaved deployments
Might not have ripped heart and spirit
Into so many scattered pieces

I could have asked friends
Weep with me?

I wouldn’t have excluded them
These many months of loneliness
But then
Maybe I wouldn’t have accepted
This fragile courage
To double check my mags
Make sure the chamber’s loaded
Step cautiously and nudge the child’s severed arm
Closer to her body
Wipe my eyes clear
Take another step forward

Can’t help wandering
When and how was I supposed to get it
This euphoria of numbness some call it
This make-as-you-go survival kit

Nobody told me


I’m There
(Via restrictive mail prohibiting my saying where)


Reality in search of…


With smartphones
Computer smart cars
Driverless transit
Gigabyte this
Gigabyte that


Crippled minds and limbs
Knowing sure
From where they came
Knowing not
Where they shall go


Caring in their way
Address the circles
Like gentle creatures awaiting validation
Veterans attentively turn ears
Leaning forward
Still breathing

Compassionate directives
Come forth

Some square shoulders
Others straighten legs
A few retain stoic resolve
While the heartiest
Blink their acknowledgment
Some with the left eye
Others with the right
Whichever has survived


Stare blankly
Neither here in group
Nor there with the blasts
Merely as existence in limbo

Why try?
Asks one

‘Cause there’s still a mission to complete
Comes the answer

To retain life in that arm you still have
To keep atrophy away from the spinal chord smashed
But not severed by shrapnel
To know
There is help
There are choices
There is life of another kind
Needing to be shared
To prepare those of the next war


In the circle
will learn to adjust
Some with eyes of glass
Skulls of titanium
Feet of shapely plastic
All with hearts still beating


Destined to become…

Jaded TV spectators
Will tweet our friends
Cell-photo our spouses
Even unconsciously text ourselves
Ya gotta tune this in


As few

Like a circle of timid buds
Having weathered tempests unimagined
Await blossoms that may never come
Awakening each dawn
A little at a time
Nurturing desired full bloom
Knowing very well
Storms so often happen
Are part of it all

But always

Even as their numbers remain scarred
They continue unblemished
A different reality


I’m Back
(Via special air flight)

A Zip Bag Memorial

What were once men and women
now but ragged and putrid bundles

Without thinking they were idealists


This marvelous
inspiring mix
rendered still
decaying camo-rags
shrouded not with angel’s wings
but swathed in black
a savage mantle of flies
carrying off sacred parcels
war’s memory
immortality in ruin

Quick for God’s sake
Zip the ****ing bag


I’m on my way
They’re bringing me home

Post Comments

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  1. Date: 11/10/2013 6:38:00 PM
    Raw....I'm guessing Vietnam....I know something of that war....a powerful and stirring write in any case...