George Mansford Poem – PTSD and Broken Straws

19 May 2015

 George Mansford

PTSD and Broken Straws

What now of those who returned from war and marched yesterday
They too have said hooray to army days and gone their way
No more the accolades, ticker tape and silent are the drums
Their war already forgotten by more than some
These warriors from yesterday eagerly donned mufti at long last
Yet soon to be struggling with tomorrow and lingering with the past

Smothering jungle and deadly bunker systems just feet away
Desert sands and shimmering heat with mines and bloody frays
Exhausted and freezing in icy trenches waiting for an attack at dawn
Urgent pleas, mutilated flesh, spurting blood and mates to mourn
Urban streets where friendly waves mask grenade and gun
No matter where they served, these nightmares and more are as one

A car backfires, a helicopter whirs or other threatening noises near
Such sounds often trigger memories and sudden fear
A face in the crowd or a voice so familiar, he thinks of him
Soldiering so long together, they were closer than Kin
So many comrades lost forever in that terrible din
Suddenly he wants to be alone as if such thoughts are a mortal sin

Trying to obey old rules and routine in what was his beloved home
Ignored by old civilian friends who think it best to leave him alone
Sleepless tortured nights complete with images, shouts and screams
Ghosts pleading but he can’t go back to where he once had been
Frustration, pain, anger and questioning past duty with “What For?”
Reaching out for help but too often snatching at broken straws

As youth they answered the call and stepped forward to dare
Now their camps are homes, shelters, parks and god knows where
Lost now in a space age society that simply does not understand
Some say “enough” and depart Planet Earth for a better land
When the next column marches home and crowds do cheer
There will be more with troubled minds and sleepless nights I fear.

George Mansford © May 2015