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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1878587-The-Homeless-Man
Rated: E · Poetry · Emotional · #1878587
How it feels to see another combat veteran in worse shape than you are in.....

I met a homeless man, the other day,
With unkept hair, and beard of grey,
On his head sat the hat of my beloved Marine Corps
He wore an aged Field Jacket from the Vietnam War.

On his sleeve was a Unit Patch that I knew very well,
The unit I served in, when I did my time in Hell.
Passers-by taunted him, calling him “Gunny”
As he stood there and begged for cigarettes and money.

His eyes were haunted with the 1000-Yard Stare
His mind ravaged by cheap booze, and despair.
His thoughts, I'm sure, were still trapped in Saigon
For him, the nightmare was still going on.

They say he came home a hero, from Vietnam
He did his duty for Uncle Sam
He was awarded the Purple Heart for his acts of bravery
But he also won scars that nobody could see.

He was a boy of 18, who worked at the mill,
When they handed him a rifle, and forced him to kill.
He spent months in the jungle fighting the Viet Cong
With no time to wonder if it was right or wrong.

He went home and married his High School sweetheart.
They had a few good years, then it all fell apart.
She just couldn't understand that the wall that he'd built,
was to shut out the feelings of horror and guilt.

Because sometimes at night, when he'd lay down in bed,
He'd hear gunfire, explosions, and see the faces of the dead.
And the feelings all came back, that he tried to hide inside,
As he would wake up screaming, then hang his head and cry.

After all these years, Father Time has his toll.
Now his best friend is a bottle, and he sleeps in the cold.
He just haunts the graveyards, talking to the stones,
Of the ones who died fighting so far from home.

The people around town talk about him a lot.
But they never mention the war that he fought.
They just say he's crazy, a fool and a bum.
The fighting's all over, but the war is never really won.

I put a Twenty in his pocket, and took my leave
With a heavy heart, and a spirit bereaved.
Being a hero is not really much fun,
When the fighting's all over, 'cause the healing's never done.

I went to my home, and locked the door,
And thought about my fellow veteran a little bit more.
And about how casualties aren't just the ones who died.
As I sat on my couch, I cried......


Semper Fi!


© Copyright 2012 J. C. Brothers (gigmaster at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1878587-The-Homeless-Man