Leftovers

By Korey Wallace

When college was happening for most
Those men there
Were humping jungle.
Far from your video games.
While you stress about which new sneakers to buy
How to get your parents to pay for your thousand-dollar phone
Those men there
When they were your age
Were learning to kill.

They
came home only
to remove their uniforms before they de-planed.
To unknown consequences after napalm exposure.
An entire country boiled
without any of the peace they supposedly secured.

To you they may be a little pathetic. Another reason why we need change.
Another example of failure. Another justification
For the pursuit of manufactured serenity regardless of the cost.
I feel for you as I do them
The resistance to digesting the fullness of what is seen.
How to make it small.
Convenient.
Yet they went, and they still go
The lies and the hard price
Taken from their flesh
Minds now
Permanently altered.

We are all guilty.
Or maybe more innocent than we can lay claim to
All of us looking to make what we can from breath-bone

Wanting to not admit
The light nor the dark.
Nor the obvious fractured absence
In those eyes of our fathers, brothers, friends.

Musepaper Poem Prize #56

Korey Wallace’s poem “Something Akin To Knowing” has been nominated for the 2020 Pushcart Prize. His time is divided between working, writing, and watching too much Netflix while eating something containing bacon.

* This is the author’s first literary award. *

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