I tried poetry. I was always awful at poetry in school, and I haven’t written it in years. However, I was trying to figure out how to talk about about what it is like to re-enter civilian society after my time in the Army, and I was totally failing at a blog post, so I thought “why not post some poetry and spread the suffering around a bit.” I feel a bit like the Grinch, subjecting you to beginner poetry when you are already under enough stress this holiday season…I guess my heart grows two sizes too small after midnight and four ditched drafts of this blog.
Community is a box of Mac and Cheese.
The box my best friend’s mother bought on my behalf,
even though none of her family eats Mac and Cheese.
A box that is still sitting on the shelf,
four years after I left home to “serve”.
My small town community wasn’t good enough.
With its safe green lawns and its old oak trees,
and its mother’s who took care of all the neighborhood kids–
because that was their inheritance from the mother’s before them.
I couldn’t see and so I left my home to see the world.
I have seen the world!
I have visited more countries than I have fingers and toes.
Countries that my home-town mothers couldn’t find on a map.
I ate in tiny kitchens with foreign mothers,
so poor they converted the dining room into bedrooms at night.
I have tasted sour beer,
from underground bars in the shadow of the Berlin wall,
and dined with princes who drive white mini-vans,
because they like their cars to match their horses,
and toasted to the salvation of their country.
I have shared Cliff Bars,
with homeless children covered in their own grime.
As they nibble suspiciously at the corner of food,
that tastes unnervingly like nutritional value,
their fathers try to inconspicuously separate me from my backpack.
I have glimpsed perfect freedom!
Holding enough money in my name and one the wiser if I steal off at night,
I have almost dared to run away.
Though I don’t dare go alone,
because they tanks on fire on the side of the road scare me.
I have also been enslaved.
Shackled by law to obey the word of one man,
who hated me for being born the wrong sexuality,
and enjoyed particularly toying with me.
Showing me what power really means.
I have met the world!
My circle of “Facebook friends” grows ever wider,
and yet the circle of people who are physically present–
whose eyes reflect my own as I “just dropped by” for some conversation–
that circle grows ever smaller.
I can drop a line to Israel
And have my questions answered overnight.
I know goat farmers and politicians, soldiers and doctors.
I literally know a basket weaver.
He lives at the foot of a volcano selling to tourists.
Yet, I cannot drop by my neighbor’s house,
to borrow a cup of sugar,
because I left my home to see the world,
and now I am tainted by that self-same human race,
who built my beautiful home.
I am infected with the grief,
that I saw on the brows of so many people like me,
who have tasted senseless suffering at the hands of men,
and who have stood by silently,
as they watched others subjected to injustice.
I AM INFECTED….
So I avoid my home,
and I have settled far away out of convenience,
but I avoid making this new place my home too.
Because it is so much easier to hide in this little world,
behind the bright and hopeful screen of my laptop.