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by J. Scott Price

There’s this valley someplace
that looked like
all the rest
though none of us knew
it contained our death.

A simple shithole of a spot
with no name on a map–no
grand historical battle space.
a trap.

So there’ll be no consolation,
no transferred dignity
for our beloveds
when reverent whispers ask,

Where did they serve, how did they die?

Thankfully, though, no unmarked graves for us.
Our buddies brought our bodies back.

But I’ve met others
since that day I named the Paradox of Pain
without that seemingly simple,

Their remains
remain where they fell
and turned to dust
in some other Nowhereville.

J. Scott Price served as an infantryman in the Virginia Army National Guard from 1986 until 2011, and deployed for both OIF and OEF. This poem gestated from events in Afghanistan and emerged seven years after his return.

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