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