Reintegration Blues

At one a.m. I left the bar,

The one back home I frequented

Where on the wall a picture hung

Of me in Mosul I’d mailed home,

Hung more so out of patronage

Than patriotic duty; where my peers drank

And lived in ramshackle row-homes

In the shadow of the old mill

Worked menial jobs, but were better than me.

And un-emphatically asked “how many

Did you kill, Army boy?”


Blurry-eyed and slightly drunk,

I crossed the tracks and walked

Over the bridge, ruminating over the

Worst question you could ever ask a vet.

I caught sight of the French 75;

The town memorial to the Great War.

And it spoke, its old gray form

Cast orange by the street light.


And in my head I heard the sounds

Of not too long ago

The gentle night’s breeze carrying

The din from a far-off battle as I

Walked that familiar mile home,

My hands fidgeting in my pockets, keeping

Them from patting my torso

Looking for the rifle still slung in my mind.

Formless shapes watching me in

The dark; only the dead to keep me

Company on this foot patrol tonight.


And as the battle in my head faded,

I contemplated the men who worked

That French 75, and why they called

It the Great War; I faced no trenches, no

Gas, no frontal assaults. They will erect

No stone for our wasted war and yet,

I felt ashamed to align myself in name

With they – true veterans of a foreign war.


The sounds were in my head again,

And despite the endless missions and

The unrelenting foot patrols, that one

Mile walk home was the longest of all.

About anotherwarriorpoet

Mathew Bocian served as a Captain in the United States Army with the Stryker Brigade and was deployed to Mosul and Tal'Afar in 2004 - 2005, and to Baghdad for The Surge in 2007 - 2008. He left the Army in 2012 and now uses his poetry as a way to heal from the traumas of war, while attempting to express to readers the realities of war. He is the recipient of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, and holds a master's from the Graduate School for Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.
This entry was posted in War Poetry and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s