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Posts from the ‘Poetry’ Category


by Nicholas Chiarkas


death brushes past me
she drags away frightened friends
Mara why not me

recurring nightmares
midnight mourning of dismay
retain terror’s taste

died in that jungle
returned home to no parade
can you still feel me

Nicholas Chiarkas served in the US Army (101st Airborne Division) from 1962 – 1965. He is the author of Weepers, an award-winning mystery/suspense novel set in New York City in 1957.

Chiraq PTSD Willies

by Gerard Sarnat

Lands of broken toys, Chi-town bricks weighed my Mosul wagon.
Poseur know-it-all putz sure The Kid Had It,
pussy wagon bulletproof spunk after spunk blasted
Teflon tainted by smart-aleck prig’s ruthless ambit.
Gelatinous abyss peaked this fraught jewfish’s
dysmotional algebra.

Mendelian mendacious, morally elastic squid’s
self-loathing golden rule hubris screwed-reamed-
creamed-blasphemed-extorted spaz cliques deemed unworthy.
Grifter betrayed shave-buttered girlfriends, forsook buddies
to settle scores, swapped out the whole shmeer
for flashier peacocks.

A pinhead shidiot jerkoff brimming with butthair conceit,
porked with delusions of stallion dicks, in the sack 13 hours,
splooging the other 12; pee-wee one-eyed Charley whetted ‘n
whacked choke-the-chicken skeet (ain’t strudel yanked on jammies).
My detrusor Miles Davis dance done, Pa grumbled Ma’s
honeypot festered.

Bedding a once friend’s gullible wife’s crippled life, good boy
tries to be bad, two-faced boy to be good. Never met Mom’s dad
— she said the cad shouldn’tv’e been told he was brainiac
and seeded moi’s arrogance – parents were right to be lurid.
Nearing my boneability crossroads, the less I comprehend, but
menschier perhaps?

Gerard Sarnat has had family members in the Armed Forces, some of whom have shared their  experiences with him. He is the author of four collections: HOMELESS CHRONICLES from Abraham to Burning Man (2010)Disputes (2012)17s (2014), and Melting The Ice King (2016). He has built and staffed clinics for the marginalized, including many veterans, and been a CEO of healthcare organizations and Stanford Medical School professor. Married since 1969, he and his wife have three kids and three grandkids.

The Forgotten Children

by Newt Ronan

These are the forgotten children.
Lying abandoned where they fell.
No pulse, no sound, no light.
They took nothing but breath
And left no more than idle wind
Stirring summer grass at midnight.
No past, no future, leaving no memories
Of life or living or dying.
Call them forgotten.
Buried in abandoned graves
Or burned to ash, scattered,
Blowing through vacant fields and darkened streets.

Newt Ronan is a US Army Infantry Vietnam War veteran who led platoon size operations in the DMZ and in the area west of Chu Lai during 1968 and 1969 was honorably discharged in 1970 as a captain, Infantry. His awards include the Silver Star, Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, a case of malaria and an Agent Orange injury. Retired after a long business career, he spends his time on fitness and family and, in his writing efforts, failing to do justice to the fallen.

Fury Came to Visit

by Amanda Clerc

Fury came to visit
and she welcomed it in
Serpents enveloped her aura
Fire stares from her eyes
Metal quenches her thirst
Course skin crawls,
In spite of her hospitality
Flush wet nape
Muscles clench
In the small of her back
Restlessness to unleash fury
Heart pounds with excruciating thumps

Amanda Clerc is a Minnesota Army National Guardswoman and an Iraq war veteran. She deployed for 22 months with the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 34th “Red Bull” Infantry Division. Amanda lives in the Minneapolis area with her son and a cuddly lab retriever.

Thick, Black Smoke

by Brandy Williams


I rake leaves, place
in pile, and toss match. A
hard day’s work drips
from my brow. Flames duel,
dancing a waltz before ravaging
blood heart of a half-eaten
carcass. Acorns pop, whistle
like fighter planes dropping
from heaven. Pale, yellow earth
turns red. Smoke soaks
up landscape; white clouds drift
on breath currents.

White smoke is natural; black
is manmade.


We stood in shade,
methodically cleaning residue
from guns. I stepped out back
and lit up.

Black smoke—thick, black smoke billowed in air:
“Hey, what’s that?” I asked, pointing at the smoke.
“I’m not sure; white smoke is natural; black
is manmade,” he said.
We went back to the shade.

The radio chirped panicked voices—
“Ranger Five—Blackjack—landline, Now!”
The Humvee’s squealing tires,
the sergeant yelling—
“Get your gear! Plane down! Plane down!”
broke me from my trance.


We race across the desert,
as barren as my womb, heading
towards smoke—thick, black smoke.
Sand hammers my mouth, my lungs. We
follow smoke, catch air; up, down,
white knuckled, grind to a halt.

Pebbles drift over canyon’s edge—falls
like stone snow; imagine falling
like a stone, spiraling
to an unconscious end
on the crushed basalt below.

We tightrope the canyon’s edge
with our gear. It is there, the smoke—
thick, black smoke. And
just beyond the range—
the plane.
Hydrazine attacks my body
like a swarm of bees, and I
breathe shards of glass.

“What’s that smell?” I ask,
sniffing the air. Horrid, rancid—
like three day old meat, baking
under a desert sun. The world swirled
like a spindle top flipped
on its axis.

He is there, in the flames, floundering
like a fish finning for air.
Sinewy flesh drips
from bones.

Heat of a thousand suns scars
my face, melts off his. Flames dance
in his eyes.


I reach
for him, withdraw my charred
hand. He’s waving,
waving goodbye. No, it’s
just my nephew running
through vapor fields.

Brandy Williams is an Air Force veteran who served as a jet engine mechanic and an independent duty medical technician from 1997-2010. After she separated from the military, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English in from Louisiana State University at Alexandria. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Southern Studies at Ole Miss.


by Reva Gaines

Pain, frustration at the pain, limiting my usual ability to…
My ability to think, to move without discomfort, to live.
I endure….
What was I thinking, oh yeah, concentration is a big issue, memory another…
I hurt; my neck, my back, my knees, my head aches, my feet, hurt…
How to sit or recline to alleviate the unending aches and pains?
Looking around my space, my desk is cluttered with unpaid bills, forgotten mail…
The sink in the kitchen and the countertop is overflowing, but hey, where is the
energy to care enough to clean up, or even freshen up?
I endure….
Let’s head to the bathroom, I need a shower after lying around for days…
On those days, most days, fatigue – can I get up and make it to the couch?
That’s progress right? Is there progress with depression, really ever?
Did I eat? Um, I think so, but I’m not sure. Some days my emotions and I stuff my face!
Did I sleep last night? Lost track of how many times I checked the clock, looked at the ceiling, got irritated…
Why do I do that? To endure, or go crazy!
Now I’m thinking about all of the times I screwed up, lost out, loser!
Mr. Depression please go away. Listless, uninspired, what was I saying?
What happened to everyone I knew over the last twenty or so years?
Oh, yes, no one loves me, I’m all alone today, tonight, tomorrow…
It’s not important, they aren’t here now, but my aches, pains, and depression visit often.
What can I say?
I endure….
How do I know? Because today I’m still here…

Reva Gaines served twenty years in the Army in places as far away as Germany, Japan, and Hawaii. She departed the military, but did not stop moving, she went on to earn a double MBA through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs vocational rehabilitation service. She gratefully owes her long career and education to the United States Army.

New Eyes

by AnnaLou Jackson

I see more clearly now.
Know more facts,
Understand more connections,

With this new sight
I see what may be lost.
How easy all is gone.
Feel how permanent is “forever”.

Life has found a new type of balance.
A double fisted stance,
Clenching pain in one
And hope in the other.

For neither will ever leave me now.

Annalou Jackson joined the U. S. Army in 1967 and served as a medical laboratory technician for five years. After the service she attended university and made a career in the laboratory industry. She has written verse as a hobby for many years and is enjoying having more time for it now in retirement.

For My Babies

by Nicolya’ Jones

From the day I knew you were on the way, I was afraid for you
Would I be able to care for you? Could I possibly love you enough?
Would I be a good friend to you? Could I show you unconditional love?
I’ve never thought of myself capable of loving you as much as I do.
You are a part of me, a memory and my future all wrapped up into one.
You are a chance at something great and I look forward to your success.

I signed on to leave you when I thought I never could
With the dream of giving you better, of making your life good.
I struggled to become someone I’ve never thought I could be
I learned discipline, warrior skills, and even broke my body
I learned to be strong for you, myself and others
All to be able to give you what I know you deserve.

Today, my sons, my daughter, I am thankful for you being such an amazing part of my life
I pray I gave you memories to love and taught you how to dream big
With honor I say I’m proud to be your mother, your friend, your soldier
For you and my country, my life I will surely give.
Remember me when I’m gone and know that what I did was all for you.
When it’s all said and done, my greatest honor will be to have laid down my life for you.


Nicolya’ Jones is an active duty paralegal specialist who has been in the Army for 6 years. She is the mother of three children. On September 11, 2015, her teenage son Kenyon Givens Jr. was killed on Fort Riley by a friend in what appears to have been an accidental shooting. Nicolya’ has been writing for over 20 years; it is her outlet.

Wilted Flower

by Laticia Brown

You were once so beautiful
And full of life.
Now you hang your head down low.
Where did that vivacity go?
You still are beautiful
And have a lot of life left.
So please wilted flower, don’t give up yet.
Wilted flower I hope you believe and know,
That you still have the strength to flourish and grow.

Laticia Brown was born in Riverside, California. She enlisted in the United States Air Force at the age of 18 and was stationed in California, Arizona, Germany, Iraq, and Turkey. After leaving the Air Force, she worked at VA hospitals in Tucson, AZ and Palo Alto, CA. In Palo Alto she endured severe depression, a suicide attempt, and homelessness. These experiences inspire her poetry. She was recently accepted to New York University and will be attending in the Fall.

The Pack

by Liz-Katherine Medina

There she goes
Out again
Sun so bright
Glistening sweat
She wears a scarf around her head
To disguise her bun
A giveaway
She holds her weapon close
Always at the ready
She inhales that dry air
The stench of waste fills her nose
But she does not stir
Standing straight
She carries her own weight
She takes a break
Sits on dirt
Drops her pack
She lets sleep return
That second feels like a minute
That minute feels like an hour
Eyes just closed
A moment of rest
It’s time to go
She grabs her pack
And the walk begins
You see,
That pack, is no ordinary pack
She carries food, clothes, medicine, socks
But she also carries
The tears her husband shed when he saw her go
The priceless hugs from her daughter that did not want to let go
The weight of her parents concern waiting on her return
She carries it high between her shoulder blades
She carries it with pride
For her it is just a small sacrifice
So that the dirt her daughter stands on
Will never be stained with the blood of war
So don’t you judge this woman
this mother
this wife
Don’t you judge this woman with a pack
Don’t you judge the tears she cannot mask
For years after her war is over
She will always carry on her pack.

Liz-Katherine Medina was born in Lima, Peru and immigrated to the United States when she was two years old. She is a Marine Corps veteran who deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and is currently a drilling reservist with Det-2 Supply. She helps bring awareness to PTSD by using it as her platform in pageant competitions, and in her current position of Miss Capitol Hill she uses fitness and poetry as an outlet for her PTSD. She lives in Woodbridge, VA with her two daughters, ages four and six.