Lifer in the war against war

I           I was a Marine Corps volunteer at young age 17—a child soldier from America.

                        My parents had to sign my enlistment papers.

An excellent garrison Marine, combat left me wretched.

I could never sandbag away the harshness of the killing life.

‘God and Country’ morphed in my gut to cheap and sordid.

I was growing gruesome hands and a killing heart.

I was losing pride in simple dirty hardship. 

Fading was my parade-ground joy at bodies in harmonic motion.

Totally gone was my sightless naiveté of what I’d been mythed to be:

an automaton of death,  hardened, skin-clad, inhumanity

born in the jaded jungle war zone of kids killing kids.

 

II          Discharged at 20, tumorous spirits, red-livid with ugly anger, I wandered—

hyper and hurting—mind frayed—emotions deformed—

grieving life barren and crushingly suborned by what I couldn’t name:

a man-made malady no one wanted to hear.

 

III        Long years passed slowly. I walked dirt roads. I haunted dark bars.  

I married and married and married again. Then I epiphanied.

I gained the goal of long ago: I became a lifer, not in sharp Marine dress blues nor

bloodied torn jungle camouflage. I became a lifer—long-haired, long-bearded—

in the never-ceasing war against American war.

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