Colleen’s yellow ribbon.

Eli came back from Iraq
and tattooed a teddy bear onto the inside of his wrist
above that a medic with an IV bag
above that an angel
but Eli says the teddy bear won’t live
and I know I don’t know but I say, “I know”
cause Eli’s only twenty-four and I’ve never seen eyes
further away from childhood than his
eyes old with a wisdom
he knows I’d rather not have
Eli’s mother traces a teddy bear onto the inside of my arm
and says, “not all casualties come home in body bags”
and I swear
I’d spend the rest of my life writing nothing
but the word light at the end of this tunnel
if I could find the f****** tunnel
I’d write nothing but white flags
somebody pray for the soldiers
somebody pray for what’s lost
somebody pray for the mailbox
that holds the official letters
to the mothers,
fathers,
sisters,
and little brothers
of Micheal 19… Steven 21… John 33
how ironic that their deaths sound like Bible verses
the hearse is parked in the halls of the high school
recruiting black, brown and poor
while anti-war activists
outside walter reed army hospital scream
100, 000 slain
as an amputee on the third floor
breathes forget-me-nots onto the window pain
but how can we forget what we never knew
our sky is so perfectly blue it’s repulsive
somebody tell me where God lives
cause if God is truth God doesn’t live here
our lies have seared the sun too hot to live by
there are ghosts of kids who are still alive
touting M16s with trembling hands
while we dream ourselves stars on Survivor
another missile sets fire to the face in the locket
of a mother who’s son needed money for college
and she swears she can feel his photograph burn
how many wars will it take us to learn
that only the dead return
the rest remain forever caught between worlds of
shrapnel shatters body of three year old girl
to
welcome to McDonalds can I take your order?
the mortar of sanity crumbling
stumbling back home to a home that will never be home again
Eli doesn’t know if he can ever write a poem again
one third of the homeless men in this country are veterans
and we have the nerve to Support Our Troops
with pretty yellow ribbons
while giving nothing but dirty looks to their outstretched hands
tell me what land of the free
sets free its eighteen-year-old kids into greedy war zones
hones them like missiles
then returns their bones in the middle of the night
so no one can see
each death swept beneath the carpet and hidden like dirt
each life a promise we never kept
Jeff Lucey came back from Iraq
and hung himself in his parents basement with a garden hose
the night before he died he spent forty five minutes on his fathers lap
rocking like a baby
rocking like daddy, save me
and don’t think for a minute he too isn’t collateral damage
in the mansions of Washington they are watching them burn
and hoarding the water
no senators’ sons are being sent out to slaughter
no presidents’ daughters are licking ashes from their lips
or dreaming up ropes to wrap around their necks
in case they ever make it home alive
our eyes are closed
america
there are souls in
the boots of the soldiers
america
f*** your yellow ribbon
you wanna support our troops
bring them home
and hold them tight when they get here

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2 Responses to Colleen’s yellow ribbon.

  1. Colleen says:

    Just so everyone knows, this poem was written by Andrea Gibson. She’s amazing–one of my favorite people in the world. Some of her performances are on you tube if you’re curious about her work.

  2. Jared says:

    Whoa.
    Maybe that’s all I should say in response. Whoa.
    Brought tears to the eyes of this cold, heartless surgeon (-in-training).

    Anyone else think there is an agreement on the part of everyone- politicians, media, us- to stop talking about the war? The hawks want to pretend like everything is going fine and the doves want to pretend ‘The Surge’ was completely ineffective. The rest of us just want to keep consuming material goods that we can’t afford. Leaving those directly affected to find their own way through the complex mess.

    But that’s what Bush told us to do. At one point he had a 91% (!!) approval rating. The highest of ANY president since WWII. The country was united, he could have made REAL change. Our generation was waiting to be asked to make sacrifices, we were ready to be called to greatness. Instead we were told to keep consuming. Our grandparents did rubber drives and grew victory gardens for the war effort. Someone could have asked us to take the bus on Mondays to conserve oil…

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