War's Silent Hostage This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






Join the Discussion

This article has 1 comment. Post your own now!

alaskanman said...
Nov. 3, 2011 at 10:53 am
I think that this is a very well writen poem and I can relate to the sadness and bitterness that surrounds the topic of war and hate. My dad is active duty and has gone over seas five times in nine years and when he talks about it I want to cry and punch some one because what is the point in fighting anymore?
 
bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback