Regarding My Departure by Paul Richard



The people I killed now will have killed me,
I’m sorry, it’s led to this lead in my head.
It’s just that things got worse and worser.
If worser isn’t a word, it should be.

You’ll bury me with garlands, sweet flowers,
battle flag precisely folded, presented,
bugled taps, bowed heads.
No need for gray hearse, gray horse or gray coffin
for a private first class.

All will be sad, tears, handkerchiefs,
whispering sweet memories.
Subtle refrains:
“So much promise”.
“Such a good boy”.
“How could this be?”

Mourners disperse, carry on,
just without me.

Yards away,
crying in shadows of silent gray stones,
a father whispers.
“I want my son back for Christmas”.

I’ve no time for theses on war or better killing machines,
no time for logjams in government halls.

The done is done, will be done real.
Tried to sleep through sweat nightmares, pounding and swearing.
All that showed up, in tossed sheets and smacked pillows
Kill or get dead, putting more sinister thoughts in my head.

Targets are just targets, after all.
No real souls to think about, none at all.
Shoot, they’ll all fall,
just pawns in the sights of my M-16.

Wish there were a Department of Peace,
a legislated state of Civility.
Seems no, won’t, can’t happen.

Which leads to this moment, the real reality show.
Peace in a last whiskey, last puff, last pill
and my official Colt departure machine,
now empty and fallen on my dead heart.

Very sorry about the mess.


1 thought on “Regarding My Departure by Paul Richard

  1. Sad but all too true for many veterans of wars. This poignant account in verse points to the need for many more mental health counselors. Wars end but not for our vets who carry trauma for a lifetime in their heads.

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