Twenty-Two HUMAN BEINGS

vets

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September is Suicide Prevention Month.
According to the government,
22 veterans commit suicide
every day.
It’s probably
a lot higher.
Twenty-two is just a number, a statistic
but there are names and faces
devastated families,
friends
and communities
They say twenty-two a day
but what does that mean?
22 men and women
dubbed as heroes
by the US government
by politicians
the media
and a tax-paying public
that has grown ‘numb’
to the repeated drums
of war
after war
after war
after war,
these 22 women and men
every single day
are discarded and forgotten
by all those calling us heroes
and who shed less and less
alligator tears
by the day
for our sisters and brothers
still dying in war
after war
after thirteen years
of war
and the DHS
says we’re a threat
calls us unstable
Uncle Sam dehumanizes those
he called heroes
with a label,
but it’s not a disorder
and it’s not a disease
and maybe it’s got something
to do with empathy
with not being ok
with day after day
after war
after war
and then the President says
wait, wait…
there’s more
war
more
death and destruction
more bullshit elections
more marching us
further from sanity
while saying,
fuck the directions
it’s almost as though
they’re spinning a globe
like we used to do
as little kids
wondering where we
were going to live,
but instead of
using their imagination
they get high
off destroying
civilization,
and expect us not to care
when our sweat, blood, and tears
didn’t get us anywhere
moving humanity backwards
and nonchalantly starting
“another” Iraq war…
while the graveyard of empires weeps
the children of Afghanistan
will never sleep
soundly through the night
their whole lives
have been a big fight
just to survive
a struggle
just to stay alive
and we’re still there
and America still doesn’t care
not that we ever really did
but we still give
toy soldiers
to little kids
and still wave our flags
from time to time…
and
TWENTY-TWO A DAY IS A FUCKING CRIME
because one is too many
and because we’re human beings
not fucking statistics
and every single politician
has blood on their hands
for thinking that
destroying Afghanistan
and Iraq
wouldn’t blow up
in our face…
and if humanity was a race
we’d be losing
if we hadn’t already lost,
and unless the bombs
are dropping
on your neighborhood
you don’t know the cost…
unless, that is
you’re in the other 1%
and you get home from war
and struggle
just to make rent
and struggle
juggling prescriptions
and addictions
from trying to avoid
all the news you hear
that keeps contradicting
reality
it’s full of brainwashing
fallacy
propagating fear
to sell more war
after war
after war
and after they’ve misused you
and abused you
and drugged you
when it would have been
more humane
to drag you out back
and shoot you
or to hug you
and actually LOVE you
it finally dawns on you
that the New Dawn has ended
and daylights fading
and you face eviction
and conviction
for a drunken fight
even though you know
you’re right
and society’s wrong
it’s a somber song
that only few can hear
and falls on deaf ears
that you’re right to care
and to know it’s not fair
and that the world is fucked
but you’re out of luck
stuck
next to your
broken down
piece-of-shit
made-in-America
truck
that’s been running on fumes
for too long,
a rolling tomb,
a shell
of what it was
years ago
and there you are
stuck
on the side of the road
with that million-mile stare
out beyond nowhere,
and the midnight train
ain’t coming
and you’re left humming
that tune
that you try to forget
that patriotic tune
trapped in your head
that no snake-oil
can erase,
“Johnny, get your gun, get your gun, get your gun…”
and you don’t want it anymore
but can never give it back
“Hurry right away, no delay, go today…”
But after it’s over
the lines at the VA
are a mile long
and they end in
mountains of pills
“Make your daddy glad to have had such a lad…”
and you can’t stand your family,
and you can’t face your own reflection
“Tell your sweetheart not to pine,
To be proud her boy’s in line…”
and when you no longer love yourself
it gets harder to say
‘I love you’ to someone else
and mean it.
“Hoist the flag and let her fly
Yankee Doodle do or die…”
and you get sick to your stomach
whenever you see the flag
because you know it’s blood-soaked
and used to hide the bodies
“Make your mother proud of you
and the old red white and blue…”
and when you look at the sky
you know god doesn’t exist
because if he did
and the blue sky is blue
because he loves you
he wouldn’t kill all your friends
“Send the word, send the word over there…”
and you realize
that practically everything
you were ever taught and told
is a lie
“That the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming
the drums rum-tumming everywhere…”
and you can’t forget
that fucking song
“So prepare, say a prayer,
Send the word, send the word to beware…”
and you figured out
to beware
so you try
to start running
but you’re ragged,
can’t sleep
with all those war drums
rum-tumming
jagged tunes
of more war
after war
after war
but you got
quicksand feet now
and there are
too many fields
left to plow
but all you have
is swords
no plow shares
and there is no
sharing the blame
who’s to blame
anyhow?
Uncle Sam?
You?
Me?
Them?
but it doesn’t matter
you’re madder than the hatter
pickled from too many
government pills
a deer in headlights
shoot to kill
no more left
right
left
shoot to thrill
and the light is too bright
and I’m too tired
to fight
so with my last breath
I scratch my swansong exit
stage left
into the pavement
“We’ll be over, we’re coming over…”
someone called the cops
about the crazy guy
on the side of the road
in a drugged out haze,
smoke billowing out
of the American-made
truck
and it looks like he’s got a gun
and he won’t run
and hide,
he’d rather get high
on adrenaline
one last time

Fuck…

“And we won’t come back
till it’s over,
over there!”
and you wish
that you never
made it back,
but we did
and we were all
just kids
back then
and now we’ve grown
into broken men
and women
and 22 of us a day
according to the VA
are going to
take our own lives
tomorrow
twenty-two of us a day
see no other way
out of this mess
but there is,
at least I hope there is…

peas

LibertyBarn

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