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War's Silent Hostage MAG
I want to talk about war.
How it kills and maims everything in this world
tanks crushing children's innocence
because of the color in their eyes
and skin pigment.
I want to talk about how nobody even knows what we're fighting for,
and how the mission we accomplished is not a score.
I want to talk about the forgotten blood
beneath the weight of building rubble,
absorbed by dry land.
I want to talk about freedom
being won by the barrel of a gun.
I want to talk about Uncle Sam,
how he gave my cousin a machine gun,
and how he baits young men and women.
I want to talk about the men and women who accept war's burden.
I want to talk about loving a soldier,
a civilian cousin who became my brother.
He's a soldier in the morning and a new daddy at night.
I want to talk about the Greyhound bus
that silenced the sixteen years we shared
and how all we had were letters, i's dotted with tears.
I want to talk about how all of the good-byes
blended together in a lump of pain lodged in my throat.
I want to talk about the boy trapped behind stern soldier eyes,
the one the world gave up on.
The boy who loves the uniform
that gives him respect.
I want to talk about the curly-haired boy
with a lumberjack's beard
all shaved off to make him a man.
I want to talk about the man I never saw cry
until he put that heavy jacket and tan boots on.
I want to talk about how even brave soldiers are scared.
I want to talk about the silent war my soldier fights.
I want to talk about my cousin, who has a beer with breakfast –
each swig he takes makes him meaner.
He never beats her body, but his cheating heart burns her soul.
I want to talk about the cousin who broke every bridge
with his fists and bitter heart.
I want to talk about being related to the bad guy
and loving him in spite of it.
I want to talk about the word Afghanistan,
how when he said it out loud
it was sharper than the blade of a knife,
and how Lady Liberty held her fire to my throat.
I did not melt, I only froze.
I want to talk about the guilt I feel
for replacing all the ifs with whens.
For thinking he won't be coming home.
I want to talk about my guilty conscience
for picturing the curly-haired boy
stealing tomatoes with me in the summer,
rinsing red tomato juice from his hands with the blood of another man.
I want to talk about how army life never ends.
Here at home it's in dark shadows; in the desert it whips the sand.
I want to talk about the tears I'm sick of shedding,
how I want to scream, “There is NO right side of war.”
I want to talk about how when pain and anger mix it breeds confusion.
I want to talk about the memories I struggle to preserve,
keeping a crying soldier a little boy.
I want to talk about the lumps of pain I swallowed
to hide away my tears
when he spoke the word Afghanistan.