Metal plate in his head.
He had survived the battle zone. WWI—his war.
Purple heart on his chest from head injury: his survival.
He returned home with medals but his mind,
Crowded with nightmares from a war that he did not fully understand:
memories of dead bodies and dreams of recurring guilt.
No one really knew what went through the mind of a brave warrior.
Bionic man, who overcame danger, survived bullets, gangrene and infection.
He came home looking for a scapegoat with the help of Jack Daniel’s.
With no experience of warfare, shot when he popped his head over a trench one time too many,
he faced a hail of machine-gun bullets.
Jagged fragments of bursting shells tore open his scalp.
he was an object of repulsion to others,
a victim grievous burden to himself.
Despondency, melancholia, with dark suicidal thoughts,
he remained through life, a stranger to himself,
in a living hell, maladjusted.
Never officially celebrated as a wounded hero he kept his medal, atop his dresser drawer where mattresses had been replaced, when he was stinking drunk and usually wet his bed.
From late spring to early fall he’d rise early,
eat a breakfast and take his place,
in the front porch rocking chair.
Kids in the neighborhood laughed at him,
staggering home, or lying drunk in an alley,
needing rescue from friends, passersby or Big Daddy.
Jeri Brown, 2018