War Veterans

Veterans

You think of the war veterans,
Especially the POWs who spent years
In Hanoi Hilton. You see glimpses of pain in their open eyes, 
Hard exteriors that will never move
An inch, holding the fort, the rampart
Bullet proof, while their barrel chests
Grow outward in their autumns and winters.
Here, there is no more camouflage and prowling snipers,
Only their grandchildren holding
On to their palms, asking for a Christmas gift.

All they ask for is a little respect for their courage,
To have been darting through
Plumes of Agent Orange
Lurking through blades of elephant grass,
Holding a rifle around the shoulder.
They now spend their Sundays in church,
and all they ask for is a pension,
To spend on their morning coffees,
And evening teas, and some dollars to buy
Their grandchildren Christmas gifts.

How purple are the oxygenated arteries,
That flow out of the heart,
Of men, decorated with purple hearts,
Of the type of bravery that is selfless in execution.
Now they sit sipping hot beverages,
While one by one, knock off infinitely,
To become cargo to the courier angels.
Veterans, who will never forget the war,
Sharing little anecdotes,
That get passed around, mouth to mouth.

And what else but the commemoration of the anguish
As they saw dead bodies splattered on the ground,
But overcame it, to become unsung heroes,
Who defied everything thrown at them.
Heroes that get forgotten in this American west
As they become the organic fertilizer on a cemetery
Where wild flowers grow, as if to show
To the world, the beauty that is buried beneath,
Soiled in true valor. How courage only, could
Save the deplorables, hated equally, by the enemy
And by the home turf, caught in no man’s land,
As outcasts, now waking up on loaded minefields,
Where nightmares explode like
Claymore mines, to reminisce the horror of what
The eyes gathered, as the clutter of war.

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Published by

meandererworld (Dilantha Gunawardana)

Dr Dilantha Gunawardana is a molecular biologist, who graduated from the University of Melbourne. He moonlights as a poet. Dilantha wrote his first poem at the ripe age of 32 and now has more than 1700 poems on his blog. His poems have been accepted/published in Forage, Kitaab, Eastlit, American Journal of Poetry and Ravens Perch, among others. He was also awarded the prize for "The emerging writer of the year - 2016" in the Godage National Literary Awards, Sri Lanka for his first collection of poems (Kite Dreams – A Sarasavi Publication), while being shortlisted for the poetry prize. Dilantha is a dual citizen of Sri Lanka and Australia, and shares his experiences from two different cultures. He blogs at - https://meandererworld. wordpress.com/

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