Broken Soldier by Leah Chan

The war veteran, his past, my past. Weary and haggard.

I seldom step out of my retrospection to see the light of day.

 

Persistent posters:

Your Country Needs You.

Your Family Needs You.

Your Friends Will Fight With You.

laid siege to us.

I never planned on being a soldier,

every young boy’s dream, to be a hero but that’s it. A dream.

Persistent posters, promoting maiming, killing. And a dream

 

Your Country Needs You.

Patriotic pervasion, precipitating war.

Bring it on. Little did we know

we were foredoomed.

Perilous patriotism. Seducing us to touch our demise

with our fingertips.

Fools.

We craved it all. Pride suppressed

our fear. We were bloodthirsty to fight.

Fools.

 

Foolish dreams.

 

Orders subordinated us

to the pawns on a chessboard.

We were happy to fight, our eyes explosive. Relentless.

Military routine in our minds’ front line,

yet there’d always be one

writing letters home.

 

Military beliefs mangled my brain.

Segregated regiments of the brave and the cowards.

There’d always be one writing letters home.

 

Foolish letters. Censored.

 

We assembled in regiments of rifles and strategy.

Entwined friends and foe,

alike in the scourging soil.

Purgatory.

We suffered.

Armageddon.

Our infinite toil day by night, night

by day.

 

Enemies whisper in my ears,

their voices like gunfire shooting me with fears.

My commander enforced orders

to advance to the living room,

I have the element of surprise.

A temporary cure

 

Burning letters.

 

Amidst us all was a traitor, camouflaged in lies,

sometimes a false friend, we learnt how to be numb.

It was casual for us to retreat as someone dies,

Retreat from our minds’ front lines. Act dumb.

 

I see them watching me from behind closed curtains.

I know they’re spying on me from their sheltered bases.

I attacked one when he startled me. I was surprised-

He had no gun. I recoiled

to the safety of my armchair.

 

I suspected foul play. Something wasn’t right.

My dream in chains. Filled with fright.

They took me somewhere, I don’t know where.

Treated like a dancing bear.

 

Small bare rooms make my heart pound on the door,

sometimes I wake up, restless on the floor.

On TV. sadistic gunfire guilt pierces my body.

They call it hyper vigilance, a disorder,

I call it another war.

 

I’ve grown accustomed to the floor.

 

Endless endeavours. Prayers.

A lack of divine interventions.

Man made inventions.

Our prayers answered by detonators and mired. Dead bodies.

Tortured souls.

 

My eyes are stuck in a thousand yard stare,

Gazing at bodies. Aflame.

My ears are as sharp as my knife.

My eyes are open when they’re closed.

There’s no sleep for the living if they’re dead inside.

 

Feeling so empty, so numb inside.

The Homefront call it insanity. That’s alright.

It happened at war. Damaged chess pieces.

“Well done, you’ve done a great service.”

Tell that to the broken soldier. Still serving.

 

An apple of retribution.

Observe my life on the television?

They don’t know what I know, they don’t see what I’ve seen.

They inoculate me. Think they’ve been where I’ve been.

 

I rue the day God gave

me what I know, what I’ve seen.

 

The war veteran, his past, my past. Weary and haggard.

Medicating out of my retrospection to see any light of day.