For My Brothers

This is for you my PTSD brothers, my combat comrades-in-arms, who did what you felt you had to do at a great price: 

D. B., G. B., T. C., M. D., C. E., A. F., D. G., R. H., P. L., L. M., K. P., J. P., J. R., D. V.,  and D. V. 


Here I publicly thank you for your service ... and welcome home.


My Real Warrior
© by Jay Harden

Among the constant,
Confusing fears
And failings,
Finally, I find you,
My honest anger man,
My real warrior –
Not the one
Who went to war
And flew and bombed
And tasted God’s
Life and death
By Yes and No,
Drop here, then there –
The interior one
Who never spoke,
Who never showed
The damaged soul,
The anguish knotting,
The hell in head,
Each choice requiring
Bloom or wither,
Truth or lie.
Remaining nice
As childhood,
The silent southern
Gentleman of old manners
Wanting to speak
The true heat
Of denied possibility,
Blaming no one,
Exposing twin tyrants:
Angry at others;
More angry at me,
Not listening inside.
I hear now
And hold safe
These honest parts
Becoming a peaceful
Warrior within,
Relaxing my heart,
Reclaiming the world.
August 21, 2008
El Paso, Texas


This Way This Once 

© by Jay Harden

Still waiting through rain,
The rocks and I became
Brothers shedding salt
Into quaking ground.
We quivered for justice;
Our witness voice
Slowing the world
With veracity.
Nothing can cease
The losses.
Our best hope
Is acknowledgment:
Newly benevolent observers
Creating peace with history,
Wishing the world
Would bend this way
This once, and
Hear our noble silence,
Instead of ignoring
What appears not visible.

May 16, 2006
Athens, Georgia

Collateral Damage
© by Jay Harden

Crazy, aren’t I?
Some of me
Can’t wait to leave.
Then I’ll relax;
Then I’ll know
I haven’t killed anyone,
Haven’t killed me.
That’s our fear.
That’s the heritage
Of war.
So close to death
Without dying
Keeps calling me
More than life.
Every day,
Another success
Avoiding destruction,
And hope again
To win tomorrow.

October 5, 2008
O’Fallon, Missouri