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Words by Bark

Prose and Poetry by anapests-and-ink


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Submitted on
February 23, 2012
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Three tours in Iraq and a bullet to the leg didn't stop him.  They tell  me what changed him was coming through U.S. customs. The metal detectors and apathetic stares. The donut kiosk.  Now he is standing on the porch and avoiding everyone that came to his party.  I've only met the guy once at another Fourth of July barbeque and that was a long time ago.  Welcome home.  

I notice an application for Arby's on the kitchen table.  Someone was using it as a coaster and the paper is still soggy in the middle.  Scotch sweats more in the summer time.  I need to smoke.

I pull open the screen door and walk outside.  He doesn't turn his head to look at me.  He doesn't say hello or smile.  I stand in front of him and try to make eye contact. He's about my age but so much older.  When I strike my Zippo, his free hand clenches and his beer hand jumps to his mouth.  He closes his eyes when a bottle rocket goes off half a block away.  His mouth remains tight, unflinching.

I take a drag and he loosens up a bit.  We stand there quietly for a few minutes and I make an attempt at small talk.  "I bet you're loving this weather.  Fallujah must have been hell in the summer."  

I look at him and notice the smallest trace of a smirk on his clean shaven face.  He finishes his beer and grabs another one from the cooler at his feet.  I'm positive that he is drunk but somehow he doesn't slur a single word.

"Five hundred years from now the American Flag will be an ancient symbol.  Scholars will continuously debate on its meaning.  No one will remember my name or the name of my division or all of those faces.  None of it will have mattered. That's hell. Sometimes I actually miss the fucking desert. "

I can't move for a moment. I think of what to say and all that comes out is "Thank you." Then, I leave the party.
Writing has not been easy lately. Comments?
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:iconanapests-and-ink:
anapests-and-ink Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Oof. I know a few Iraq vets (highschool classmates, which really hurts), and this reflects them so much. Painful, but perfect.
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:iconsevslover6195:
Sevslover6195 Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I can't think of anything to say other than brilliant
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:icondarkallegiance666:
darkallegiance666 Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2012
This reads true to me. Sometimes we have nostagia for the most awful times of our lives. I've read quite a few books by Vietnam vets and about them, and this could easily be written about one of them and the conversation is extremely realistic, as well as his way of reacting.

Your poetry seems to be getting even better. :)
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:iconwordweight:
WordWeight Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2012  Student Writer
It's got soul.
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:iconfuzzyhoser:
FuzzyHoser Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Top notch writing, if you ask me. It has edge and heart, all at the same time. And the simple ending fits this perfectly, I think. Because really, what do you say to such things? :clap:
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:iconrussiantim:
RussianTim Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2012  Professional Writer
Thank you very much. The ending was the hardest part actually. I tried half a dozen different things but nothing felt as natural as thank you and silence.
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:iconfuzzyhoser:
FuzzyHoser Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I suppose gut instinct is the way to go, then. And it makes a lot of sense, because it would be difficult, at best, to try to respond in a bigger and more effective way in person.

You're very welcome.
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:iconstarmiget:
StArMigEt Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I thought it was positively amazing! Its so real and tragic in its truth. I have a few friends who are ex military, army, etc. Most of them have bad PTSD or at best come back with very different out looks and personalities. This is exactly what anyone of them would say. I'm not sure if this was a true experience or not but I feel you captured it perfectly. Incredible job! :D
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:iconrussiantim:
RussianTim Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2012  Professional Writer
Thank you very much. The conversation never actually took place but I know a guy whose wife has parties almost every weekend and whenever I go over there he is just sitting on the couch drinking a beer and kind of ignoring everyone. He is ex army and served in Iraq and whenever I'm there I just think about what he must have seen and what he must feel right now because he doesn't look happy. Anyways, this is just kind of what I imagine he might be thinking.
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:iconstarmiget:
StArMigEt Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
You are quite welcome, and thank you for the invite to your group. Is there any particular kind of work it is based on or is it basically every thing from poetry to prose and everything in between? lol

Well then I loved the imagination and insight of the whole piece. :)
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