Pops arrived back state-side in ‘75
And came home in 1976
And celebrated the bicentennial
By getting some girl to suck his dick
But he was a kid back then, just 24
And on angry nights mom swore
He wasn’t the same boy she knew before
He went off to fight in that Goddamn Asian war.
Yet she still bore him seven sons
Though he never heard the trumpets

Pops came home but he never came back
Every alarm reminded him of every attack
We kept the house quiet and the doors all locked
Prayed that silly things wouldn’t leave him shocked
We left California because he couldn’t take it
When the house would rock
Or when the mail man would knock
Or cop sirens
Or children’s laughter

His aunts would talk in hushed whispers
About veterans, the government, and their skewed statistics
And the low percentage of ‘Nam men who make it past age 56
Or how Pops was no different
And after some bad raps in court
He proved it all true,
Cutting himself 14 years short
When he hung himself at 42.

I see death in my dreams and it’s hard to explain
When it’s late at night I get these pains
Like being able to see but not feel the rain
And my wife cries about it more than I do
But what can I do?

The doctors like to call it
Post-traumatic stress
And my brothers say
Not to let it get my best
But it’s hard to let it rest
When my heart feels heavy
Even without a bullet-proof vest
When I came home from the desert
And tattooed up my chest
Inking angels and insects and tributes
To combat medics
Now that’s love.

And my family talks in hushed whispers
About the similarities of an unpopular war
An unbeatable war
An unstable war
That everyone wonders what we’re fighting for
Today, I heard a conversation in the kitchen
over a dinner
That I couldn’t stomach
About the statistics of my comrades
How many are being put into body bags
Carried out of their parents basements
And I knew what the expression on their face meant
How many kids leave and never make it out?
3000 is a pathetic excuse for a body count.

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