Crushed American Spirit

November 11, 2008

Image

Sitting on main street

booze on my breath

my stomach growling

you walk right by.

I don’t blame you

I’m a mess

a shell of my former self.

The uniform and pride

long gone

the tattoos fading

like my only jeans.

Home of the brave?

Hardly.

My home is an old tent

on the edge of the corn field

near the river bank.

When I bike to town each day

I don’t want your money

I don’t want your pity

but I would like a friend.

I walk Main Street most days

and look at the people.

I gave a lot for them,

rather, it was taken from me

in their name.

They don’t know it.

I gave my youth

my dreams

my family

my future

my home.

I gave my brothers

and my sanity.

some taken by strangers in a strange land,

some taken by the bottle

all taken by Uncle Sam,

The dreams from my youth

are now nightmares from my past.

If I had gotten that deferment

there’s no telling where I’d be

who I’d be.

Could I have been a family man?

A business man?

A proud man walking down Main Street

my head held high

handing dollars out

to folks like me?

Probably.

I could have been anyone

but here I am,

the crushed pack of American Spirits

that I just emptied

sits on the sidewalk next to me

a crushed American spirit myself.

Get a job, they say.

Great advice

but I would if I could.

I have a tough time

dealing with myself most days

let alone anyone else.

I have good days

and bad

but I couldn’t hold a job

if I wanted to

which I’ve tried

many times

and I’ll be goddamned

if I give any more taxes

to a government

that betrays all of us.

In a different time

in a different place

I wouldn’t need your spare change

to buy cheap booze.

Go to all the parades

and wave all the flags you want

blindly support unjust war

all I ask

is that you don’t judge me.

If you haven’t walked a mile

in my worn out boots

don’t look down on me.

In a different time

in a different place

I could have been your son.

In a different time

in a different place

in a different war…

he could have been me.

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