War Poems

Something Missing


when the dreams come

and I’m a shaking pile of sweat and tears


I’m naked without my weapons




without that familiar weight

slung across my chest

or laying across my lap,

that cool comfort in the dark


I’m a civilian now,

and now there’s nothing there

nothing at my side

when I reach

Joy and Fear

Joy and fear would mix

In my mom’s voice

Every time I called her from Iraq.

I didn’t know what to say,

Except to lie.

To say I was safe.

How do you tell your mom

You almost died that day?

Eleven Months of Waiting

Eleven months of

waiting, war and uncertainty

concluded in the same

Camp Pendleton parking lot

where they began.


Rusted white school buses dropped us off

right where they had picked us up –

Spilling us back onto cracked, weed-filled asphalt

outside battalion headquarters.


All the wives and girlfriends waited

where they had left us

last September.

They had their same gorgeous passion

but now they had beer,

glittered signs

and smiling tears,

instead of just tears.


We drank our beers in a silent small circle,

and clinked the bottoms of the bottles

without offering a specific toast.

Uncertain how to part

after eleven months of



They went home with their wives and girlfriends

And I hailed a cab

to an empty apartment.

I Miss

I miss


Gunpowder in my nose,

Bullets snapping close

I miss


Leaking from a prisoner,

Washed across my fist and smile

I miss


My friends beside me,

Loyal no matter my sin

When War Makes You Choose

When war makes you choose

to laugh, cry or be silent

there is no righteous choice.


Not when an Iraqi father

Carries his dead daughter out of the rubble

And shrugs,

And says,

‘I can have another.’


I chose to care less

to stay silent

And look past the father and dead little girl.

I chose to keep fighting

And probably killed other little girls.


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