"Sharing can be a way of healing. Grief and loss can isolate,
anger even alienate. Shared with others, emotions unite
as we see we aren't alone. We realize others weep with us."
~Susan Wittig Albert

Through our writing, we walk out of the darkness into the light
together, one small step at a time, recording history, educating
America, and we are healing.
~CJ/Todd Dierdorff

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Before the War: by Penny Rock

Penny Rock


I wonder what's the matter with him.
He's not the way he was before.
He's not the way he used to be.
The way he was before the war.

He had no way of knowing
What horrors were in store.
Then communication ceased
When he went off to war.

He left while only in his teens.
Now he's so much older.
The warmth of his youth is gone.
His spirit's so much colder.

His eyes look deeply haunted.
He has no joy anymore.
He doesn't laugh and rarely smiles.
He stares down at the floor.

He speaks in cryptic code.
He talks of blood and gore.
Then lapses into silence
Since he came back from war.

I wonder what he saw there
That fills his eyes with fright.
All those unknown terrors
Keep him awake at night.

Certain sounds will startle him
And send him out the door.
Will he ever have peace again,
As he had before the war?

He turns away from mirrors.
Who he sees must frighten him.
There's no respite in his mind
Because all his thoughts are grim.

I don't know what to say to him.
I can't talk as I did before.
He's not the person that I knew
Before he went to war.

He doesn't even look the same,
So pale and so thin.
It's like another person
Came back inside his skin.

He used to be such fun,
So easy to adore.
It's like he disappeared
When he returned from war.

I wonder what became of him.
I never see him anymore.
He's not the person he once was.
I mean, before the war.

Copyright 2003 Penny Rock All Rights Reserved.

[Penny Rock grew up in Minneapolis. She served in Vietnam from 1967-68 as a nurse during the TET Offensive.

She wrote poems to keep her center and to process the horrors of war. When she returned home, she found that no one wanted to hear about what war is really like, so she went silent, like so many did who returned.

Twenty-five years later, upon her diagnosis of cancer, the poetry started to flow again. She has published two poetry books about war: "He Called Me Lieutenant Angel: A Love Song From War", and "We Declare: The Truth about War and our Responsibility for Peace".]

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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